The NGV Conservation department provides a broad scope of outreach and digital engagement programs. We offer a unique perspective on artworks with our talks and tours for school groups, corporate partners and gallery supporters, and the general public. We also regularly contribute to the NGV’s social media channels.
NGV Conservation staff collaborate to support regional, national and international colleagues through consultancy, advice and skills sharing, and are frequent contributors to conservation and collection care training programmes. We have held symposia and public lectures on a range of conservation topics, for example; The ‘Collecting the Now’ conference which focused on contemporary art to coincide with the 2017 NGV Triennial, a Digital print workshop hosted by NGV in partnership with Image Permanence Institute, Rochester, New York and AICCM, and a rehousing workshop at State Library of Victoria which involved glazing, construction of profile on the reverse and backing boards. Other activities include the symposium FRAME: Concept, History and Conservation in partnership with AICCM, and workshops on traditional gilding techniques and cleaning and preserving finishes on furniture.
Learning opportunities including internships, volunteering and work placements for conservation students, and workshops for practicing conservators and technicians, are also offered by the conservation department. Due to the nature of our working environment these placements are restricted to Museum professionals and advanced Conservation students.
The NGV Conservation department is unable to assist with treatments of personal works of art. We recommend visiting the Professional Members page, operated by the Australian Institute of Conservation (AICCM), for personal advice on your precious belongings.
Many NGV Conservation outreach programs have been made possible through collaborations with other groups such as Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV), Australian Institute of Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM), Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), and Creative Victoria.
Conservators at NGV have diverse training backgrounds. Almost all staff undertook an undergraduate degree in a related field like Fine Art, Art History, Anthropology or Science before studying conservation in Australia or overseas. Conservators generally choose a particular material type to specialise in during their training. At NGV we have specialists in Objects, Fashion and Textiles, Frames and Furniture, Paper and Photographs and Paintings. During their careers, conservators further refine their area of specialisation through professional development opportunities and research.
Most Conservation Art Technicians have a Fine Art background. They have an excellent eye for detail, an aesthetic appreciation and refined problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.
Conservators and Conservation Art Technicians work together to formulate display systems that ensure the safety of the NGV Collection and works on loan while presenting works to their best advantage. Conservators contribute their understanding of condition and points of vulnerability and Conservation Art Technicians provide their practical and problem-solving skills to help formulate a safe, subtle display system.
Voluntary work that gives you an insight into what conservation work is like is very helpful. Familiarise yourself with the conservation field by reading publications and joining a conservation organisation such as the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM).
Conservators balance different priorities throughout the day including assessing the condition and anticipating display and storage needs of new acquisitions, undertaking conservation treatment on works needed for exhibition, writing condition reports for works going on loan to other institutions and undertaking technical examination of artworks to inform treatment decisions and provide information about materials and techniques.
Yes, it is important to think about the artist and what their intention was for the artwork being treated. If an artist is still living, it is sometimes possible to interview them to document their intention and ask many other questions that will help conserve the artwork into the future. If the artist is not living, research may be required to understand their vision and choice of materials.
It is important to protect your collection from damaging light levels, fluctuating humidity, insects and dust. If you need to handle your collection items, do so with great care to avoid causing accidental damage. There are many useful resources to help you care for your collection on the AICCM website including links to reCollections, Conserv-O-grams and CCI Notes