University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 2/1996
Mellon Foundation grants support art conservation program

     Major grants from a private foundation will fill a gap in
support for art conservation training that was lost through cuts
in the National Endowment for the Arts.
     The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded the
Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation
grants totaling $990,000 to support fellowships for master's-
level students training to be professional art conservators.
     "The support is particularly welcome and much needed at
this time because the funding of art conservation training in the
U.S. has reached a crisis point, due to reduction in funding for
museums and the arts in general. In autumn 1995, the National
Endowment for the Arts ceased awarding grants for training in
conservation," says Joyce Hill Stoner, program director and
Department of Art Conservation chairperson.
     She noted that the UD art conservation program had received
grants from the NEA since it began in 1974, averaging $90,000
annually. "We are fortunate indeed that the Mellon Foundation has
kept abreast of recent developments in conservation funding and
has made this marvelous opportunity possible. Without this grant,
we could not continue to accept and fund 10 new students a year."
     The funds from Mellon will provide
         $60,000 a year for four years in fellowships,
         $250,000 for an endowment for fellowships and
         $500,000 as a challenge endowment to be matched two-to-
                  one over a four-year period.
     The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art
Conservation accepted its first class of students in 1974 and now
has 180 graduates practicing conservation throughout the U.S. and
in locations abroad. There are only three programs in the U.S.
that provide training in the examination, treatment and
preservation of paintings, sculpture, decorative and
archaeological materials, works of art on paper, textiles,
furniture and photographic materials.
     Graduates of the Wintherthur/UD program head the
conservation laboratories at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(textiles), the National Museum of the American Indian (objects),
the National Museum of African Art (objects), the Pennsylvania
Academy of Fine Arts (paintings), the Yale Center for British Art
(painting) and the National Gallery of Art (sculpture). Two
graduates are employed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and have
treated a number of notable paintings by Rembrandt. Two students
have elected to go into the treatment of natural history
materials, and one of them treated medical specimens for the
Mutter Medical Museum of Philadelphia last summer.
     In 1990, the UD Department of Art Conservation established
the first doctoral program in art conservation research in North
America. Seven students are now enrolled in that program,
researching topics ranging from stone deterioration to the
techniques of Abstract Expressionist painters. B.D. Nandadeva
from Sri Lanka is expected to be the first to complete his
doctoral degree this August, on the topic of the materials and
techniques of Sri Lankan mural paintings.
     Although funds to train new professionals have been
severely curtailed, the need for professional conservators in
still keen, Stoner says. Many museums in the southeastern and
northwestern U.S. still have lamentable storage conditions, lack
of climate control and no professional conservators in the museum
or in the region, she says.