Specialist conservators ensure that the collection of the Stedelijk Museum is maintained in good condition. The almost 90,000 objects and art works of all kinds of materials and techniques require a specific approach.
The work of the conservators
The Conservation department is chiefly occupied with the assessment and treatment of artworks, performing condition inspections and supervising incoming and outgoing artwork loans. The department is also closely involved in the installation of exhibitions.
To obtain a good overview of the collection, conservators record the state of artworks on condition-monitoring reports, along with the materials and techniques used and guidelines for how the works should be displayed. This information is used for systematically planning treatment and research, among other issues. Preventive conservation is also the task of the conservator. Conservators work closely with the Collection Care department in the setting of correct climatic conditions and specific methods of storage and handling.
Due to the size of the collection and the diversity of materials found within it, external specialists are regularly employed in addition to the permanent team of conservators. In addition, the Stedelijk participates in close collaborations with research institutions such as the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, conservation courses in the Netherlands and abroad, and other museums.
Various conservation disciplines
Each conservation discipline has its own particular aspects. The Paper Conservation department manages a large part of the collection; the correct methods of storage and display demand much attention. Many paper works are exhibited in frames with mat boards, for which a framer is specially employed in the department.
Sculpture Conservation works on objects of wide-ranging materials, from classic mediums such as cast bronze and painted wood to unusual and newer materials and multimedia installations. Sculpture Conservation works closely with the Audiovisual department of the museum in the care of installations that incorporate both mediums.
The Applied Arts and Design department is responsible for the large number of objects that include anything from furniture and jewelry to electrical appliances. The conservation of a chair requires a different set of knowledge and skills than that for a radio or vase. Conservation work is therefore often contracted out to specialist conservators.
Frames are an important component of Painting Conservation. Though not often distinctly noticed, picture frames (or their absence) are often essential elements of paintings; they can have a mainly constructive function or form part of the artistic concept.
Watch the documentary 'Who Cares?' (2011) about the challenges of conserving contemporary art.