The Conservation Department at the Fondation Beyeler
Conservation is the art of keeping art alive and intact. Even the greatest works cannot escape the clutches of time, which makes colours change and materials decay. The right ambient temperature and atmospheric humidity are key factors when it comes to conserving art, whether on public display or in storage. In many cases, however, major works of art history require the expert intervention of conservators to ensure that their aesthetic and structural integrity is preserved.
As a museum body, the Fondation Beyeler faces the long-term task of protecting and conserving the art works in its collection so that they can be accessed and enjoyed by future generations. To this end, since 2001 the Fondation has employed a dedicated team of four conservators, who together make up the Conservation Department.
The conservator’s job covers a wide range of activities. Restoration measures carried out directly on the work of art, such as cleaning, repairing and retouching, demand a scientific knowledge of a wide range of materials as well as superlative technical skill. Preventative and hence unobtrusive conservation measures are thereby assuming ever greater significance.
What does a normal working day at the Fondation Beyeler involve for a member of the Conservation Department? Carrying out visual checks is one the conservators’ primary tasks. All the information gathered is systematically recorded, with a view to developing optimum conservation strategies for each individual work of art. Written and photographic documentation, scientific analyses, care of the art works and the conservation of materials are all important facets of this process. Further major areas of responsibility include providing external loans with optimum conditions of conservation and overseeing the correct packaging and transportation of works from the Fondation’s own collection, which are lent to museums all over the world.
The field of conservation is complex and wide-ranging. The Conservation Department at the Fondation Beyeler places great value upon a networked and interdisciplinary approach to work; for its success it relies upon proactive co-operation with international partners.