| In The Lab

Kress Program in Paintings Conservation

With generous support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation , the Kress Paintings Program offers a unique and unparalleled experience/practice in the conservation of Old Master paintings. The Kress Program (as it is informally known) focuses on the cleaning, inpainting, and thorough technical analysis of selected works from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. The Collection includes over 1,000 Italian paintings held in more than 90 institutions in 33 states, primarily from the 13th to early 19th centuries. Nowhere else in the U.S. conservation graduate programs can students learn from such a distinguished and unmatched collection of Old Master paintings.

Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Research Professor in Paintings Conservation, and Rita Berg, Kress Fellow in Paintings Conservation, provide advanced instruction in the treatment of these museum-quality Old Master paintings. Generally, the paintings come to us from collections that are housed in regional galleries and other institutions without resident conservation departments. Each picture is carefully selected for its suitability as a student project. The more advanced the student, the more challenging the conservation problems the pictures present! Students carry out a thorough examination and materials analysis of each painting prior to its treatment. Paintings with more complicated needs are worked on by the instructors and serve an additional purpose as demonstrations of how to formulate and execute particularly demanding treatments. The close proximity and active interest of art historians from the Institute of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other institutions nationwide, enhances and informs the treatments, providing new information about attribution, workshop practice, painting technique, original display, and later alterations. Over 150 Kress Collection paintings have been examined and/or treated at the Center since the inception of the pilot program in 1989.

The Kress Program in Paintings Conservation has also supported publications in the field of Italian paintings history, technology, and conservation treatment.