For the first time at the National Gallery of Art, works of art are being conserved in the galleries where they are permanently exhibited, in full view of the public rather than behind the scenes in a conservation laboratory. Six marble sculptures—carved in the 17th and 18th centuries by some of the greatest sculptors working in France—will undergo conservation treatment in the elegant East Sculpture Hall of the Gallery’s West Building.
National Gallery of Art conservators will be removing dust, dirt, and grime accumulated on the sculptures over decades of display in their current location. They will also improve previous restorations that have discolored over time.
In addition to providing visitors with a rare glimpse into the world of art conservation, conserving the works in situ allows the marble sculptures to be treated in the same natural light in which they are currently exhibited. The conservators can also continually refer to the other statues, ensuring an overall sense of visual harmony. Finally, conducting the treatments in place minimizes any risks associated with moving these large and fragile works of art.
In total, this work will take approximately one year, with each sculpture requiring several months of treatment. A live video feed displayed adjacent to the sculpture will provide a close-up view of the conservation work in progress.
Throughout the initiative, this page will be updated as work progresses.
Conservation of the sculptures is funded by a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.