The NGV collection contains nearly 4,500 paintings, of which half are by non-indigenous Australian artists, one quarter by indigenous Australian artists, and the remaining quarter by international painters. With the Gallery’s encyclopedic collecting history, the collection spans all types of painting media, including Egyptian encaustic, tempera, European oil paints, contemporary synthetic polymer paints and Australian natural binding media. Similarly, the collection houses paintings on all types of traditional supports such as canvas and wood panels, along with Australian bark, and a huge variety of modern materials that have been used as supports over the past century.
The current painting conservation team consists of four conservators, including specialists dedicated to pre-twentieth century, twentieth century, contemporary and indigenous paintings. Our Conservation Art Technician is responsible for upgrading frame housing systems for the paintings, including protective backing boards on the reverse and low-reflectance glass on the front. Special storage units are also created for the most vulnerable paintings to ensure they can be handled and transported safely.
The studio maintains a work program centered around practical conservation treatments. Major projects include Hugh Ramsay’s A student of the Latin Quarter, Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of the painter Emanuel Humbert, and Anthony van Dyck’s Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke.
Alongside practical treatments, the studio is involved in technical research. Current research projects include a database compiling the materials and techniques of living artists featured in the NGV collection sourced from the artists themselves; an in-depth technical survey of paintings by British artists in the NGV as part of the Gallery’s British Collection Online project; and a research project documenting the use of varnishes by Australian artists.
We have an active outreach program consisting of publications, multimedia and educational events such as lectures, conferences and workshops, and we are regularly engaged in collaborative projects with external partners such as CSIRO and the AICCM.