NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts Announces $2 Million Grant From Eugene and Clare Thaw for an Endowed Chair in Paper Conservation

Margaret Holben Ellis is Named the Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation

The Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) at New York University has announced that it has received a $2-million grant from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust to support an endowed professorship in paper conservation at the IFA’s Conservation Center. Margaret Holben Ellis, professor of conservation at the IFA and director of the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library and Museum, will serve as the first Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation.

Mariët Westermann, Judy and Michael Steinhardt Director of the Institute of Fine Arts, said, “Eugene Thaw, a distinguished philanthropist, art collector, dealer, and scholar, has a long-held interest and love of works on paper. His collection of European master drawings dating from the 15th to the 20th century is one of the finest in private hands. We are pleased therefore to be the recipient of this important gift to endow a chair at the Conservation Center in his name. His generosity will help in the Center’s mission of the study of the technology and conservation of works of art and historic artifacts.”

A distinguished scholar in the conservation of prints and drawings and 20th-century materials and techniques, Ellis has taught at the Institute of Fine Arts since 1987 and served as Sherman Fairchild Chairman at the Conservation Center from 1987-2002. She also serves as conservation consultant to NYU’s Villa La Pietra, in addition to her part-time post as director of the Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library and Museum.

A prominent researcher who has published widely on technical connoisseurship and conservation, Ellis has authored most recently an essay on the artist Jackson Pollock’s materials and techniques, No Limits Just Edges: Paintings on Paper by Jackson Pollock, a catalog accompanying a 2006 exhibit at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her other publications include Daylight Fluorescent Colors as Artistic Media (2002) and The Care of Prints and Drawings (1997).

Michele D. Marincola, Sherman Fairchild Chairman at the Conservation Center, remarked, “Peggy’s extraordinary commitment to conservation practice and education is an inspiration. She is a brilliant teacher and mentor. In her term as Chairman of the Conservation Center, she put our program on the map. I cannot think of a more appropriate incumbent of the Eugene Thaw Professorship.”

Ellis received her MA in art history and diploma in conservation (1979) from the Institute of Fine Arts and her BA in art history (1975) from Barnard College, Columbia University. Among her many accolades, Ellis was the first Fellow in Conservation/Historic Preservation at the American Academy in Rome (1994) and received the Sheldon and Caroline Keck Award from the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works in recognition of her excellence in teaching (2003).

Founded in 1960, the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts is dedicated to the study of the technology and conservation of works of art and historic artifacts. It prepares students for careers in conservation through a four-year program that combines practical experience in conservation with historical, archaeological, curatorial, and scientific studies of the materials and construction of works of art. Students complete a Master’s degree in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts and receive an Advanced Certificate in conservation.

The Institute of Fine Arts celebrates its 75th Anniversary in 2007-08 as one of the world’s leading graduate schools and research centers in art history, archaeology, and conservation. The Institute has a permanent faculty unrivalled in the breadth and depth of its expertise and unparalleled in the range of its adjunct lecturers from top museums, research institutes, and conservation studios. Since the Institute awarded its first PhD in 1933, more than 1600 degrees have been conferred. Its alumni hold leadership roles as professors, curators, museum directors, archaeologists, conservators, critics, and institutional administrators throughout the U.S. and internationally.

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