Norbert S. Baer, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Conservation at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts’ Conservation Center, will retire at the end of the 2019 spring semester after 50 years.

Norbert S. Baer, left, and Ralph Minasian, former trustee, The Hagop Kevorkian Fund

Norbert S. Baer, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Conservation at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts’ Conservation Center, will retire at the end of the 2019 spring semester after 50 years of research and teaching materials science applied to the preservation of cultural heritage. Baer began teaching at the Center in 1969 and in 1986 was named Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Conservation. In addition to numerous senior administrative positions, he assumed overall responsibility for the programming and construction of the Stephen Chan House, home of the Conservation Center.

Baer has served in an advisory capacity to important agencies including the American Research Center in Egypt, the Indo-U.S. Sub-commission on Education and Culture, the U.S. National Archives, the European Commission Directorate on Environmental Research, and the Committee on Natural Disasters. Thanks to a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983–1984,  Baer turned his attention to larger issues of preservation policy, in particular, the introduction of concepts of risk management to the conservation of cultural materials. One manifestation of that approach was the development of a program for the prestigious Dahlem Conference on Rational Decision-Making in the Preservation of Cultural Property leading to the same-titled report, edited with Folke Snickars, in 2001.

Baer also participated in expert meetings of the NATO Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (NATO/CCMS), a scientific research committee created to study the impact of environment on quality of life in various nations. His participation resulted in the 1998 Conservation of Historic Brick Structures.

 

As a member of the National Materials Advisory Board, he chaired the Committee on Currency Features Usable by the Visually Impaired whose 1995 report was a major reference in the lawsuit American Council of the Blind v. Paulson, 2006.

In 2010, Baer and Hannelore Roemich coordinated The Interface Between Field Archaeology and Conservation, a symposium held at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus. When the United Nations established the United Nations Compensation Commission, Baer served as their expert evaluating the claims by Iran, Kuwait, and Syria against the Republic of Iraq for damages to cultural properties caused by the ca. 600 oil fires set in Kuwait by Iraqi Forces. In 2014, he was also invited to participate in the Seminar on the Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict held at the United Nations under the auspices of the International Law Commission. These direct experiences led to his seminar on The Preservation of Cultural Property in Times of Armed Conflict in 2016.

The Institute’s Conservation Center Chair Margaret Holben Ellis observes, “Dr. Baer’s sustained mentorship and unique style of teaching, which takes full advantage of the NYC art scene, have produced ever-curious and intellectually sophisticated graduates who now occupy leadership positions around the world.”

Martin Polevoy, Trustee of the Fund, noted, “The Hagop Kevorkian Fund is proud that Norbert S. Baer, as the Hagop Kevorkian Professor since 1986, has represented our Fund with distinction. Through his teaching and research, he has furthered our commitment to supporting the highest caliber of conservation education and promoting the study and appreciation of our material culture at the Conservation Center. His enduring friendship and advice have been invaluable.”

A celebration of Baer’s legacy will take place on May 9, 2019 at the Institute. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends are invited to attend. For more information, please contact Aakash Suchak, grants administrator, at amsu@nyu.edu.

About the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University:

The Institute of Fine Arts is an international leader in research and graduate teaching, and committed to global engagement and advancing the fields of art history, archaeology, and the theory and practice of conservation. Founded in 1960, the Conservation Center is the oldest degree-granting graduate program in art conservation in the United States. The Conservation Center offers a four-year, dual MA/MS graduate program that combines training in conservation with historical, archaeological, curatorial, and scientific studies. For more information, visit nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/conservation.

For media inquiries, please contact: Cheryl Feliciano, cheryl.feliciano@nyu.edu, (212) 998-6865.