One of the most important responsibilities of an art museum is to conserve artwork in the collection. Many times, gifts are accepted into the permanent collection, which are very important additions to the museum's inventory, but are in need of a conservator's care, a very expensive undertaking. These works cannot be shown to the public until they are repaired, but conservation funds limited. Because of these constraints, there are several paintings that have not been exhibited since they arrived at the museum--some as far back as 1943!
Imagine the museum's delight when Barry Bauman, a well-known and respected conservator with thirty-four years of experience, contacted us about providing his services for free! In 2003, he formed a company to donate his services exclusively to museums and non-profit organizations. As he states in his website, "In difficult economic times, funding for the Arts has traditionally been the first area to dissipate. Most museums and non-profits never seem to have the budget to cover conservation expenses. I would now like to service these critical preservation needs." Bauman's distinguished career includes eleven years at the Art Institute of Chicago. After leaving as the Associate Conservator of Paintings, he founded and directed his own company, the Chicago Conservation Center, the largest private conservation facility in the United States. Twenty years later, he sold the company to found Barry Bauman Conservation.

Joseph Vavak "Department Store"
1937 WPA/FAP
H. 34" X W. 27" Before Treatment

After Treatment

To date, Mr. Bauman has conserved four paintings for the museum. The first was a 1937 W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) painting by Joseph Vavak. The painting was in very bad condition; the varnish protecting the paint layer had been exposed to high heat, which had caused it to liquefy and form large drops of brownish "goo" on the surface of the painting. It was almost impossible to figure out the subject matter. The results of the cleaning were amazing: shadowy figures reappeared and the dark brown "haze" was removed to reveal bright colors and details. The painting now hangs in the permanent collection gallery of the museum.
Another W.P.A. painting, Marco Tricca's The Sheepfold, Central Park, was treated this year along with a Carl Lessing landscape and Julien Alden Weir's Branchville Farm. Each work has been restored with dramatic results. The Weir will be featured in an upcoming exhibition curated by the museum, Romance with the Landscape: Realism to Impressionism which opens in September.

Marco Tricca "Central Park"
H. 29" X w. 38"

Carl Lessing "Landscape"
H. 19
3/4" X W. 30 1/4"
The museum is gratefully looking forward to the continuation of our arrangement with Mr. Bauman. Three paintings will be sent to him in the next few months for conservation; two have never been exhibited. We hope that within a few years all of the "orphans" of the collection can be enjoyed by the public again. As Mr. Bauman recently wrote, "Paintings don't belong in storage."



Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532