Taking care of the art at your DIA

The DIA Conservation Department examines works of art, treats condition issues, investigates artists’ materials and work methods, determines appropriate display conditions, studies potential acquisitions, establishes the design and construction of mounts for the safe display of objects, and conducts research related to artists’ materials.

Each of the conservation laboratories is unique in its specialty, but the range of art works treated in each lab is amazingly broad, reflecting centuries of artistic creation and many techniques and materials. Sometimes, traditional conservation boundaries intersect when a work of art requires the expertise of multiple conservation specialties.

DIA Conservation Laboratories

Painting conservation

Paintings

The paintings section is responsible for care, research and treatment of paintings on wood, canvas, metal and a variety of other supports. The paintings represent a wide variety of cultures from around the world ranging in age from antiquity to the 21st century.

Object conservation

Objects

The objects section is responsible for the care and treatment of all three-dimensional objects in the collection in a wide variety of materials, including stone, metal, wood, ceramic, glass, bone, plant fibers and plastics.

Prints conservation

Paper

The preservation of art on paper includes prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs. These works on paper can range from European Renaissance drawings to contemporary prints, Islamic Qur’an pages and Asian screens and hanging scrolls.

Textile conservation

Textiles

The textiles section treats a variety of art works created with a wide array of materials, ranging from large flat objects, such as French eighteenth-century tapestries, to multidimensional pieces, like upholstered furniture and costumes.

Conservation imaging

Imaging

The department photographer and imaging specialist documents the works of art throughout the conservation process using highly specialized equipment that captures different wavelengths of light, including: visible, x-radiography, ultraviolet and infrared imaging.

Scientific research

Scientific Research

The scientific research laboratory is equipped with analytical instrumentation for the investigation of the wide range of materials used by artists: pigments, binding media, metal alloys, fibers, photographic processes, glasses, ceramics and more. The information gained informs the art historical understanding, care, and exhibition of objects in the DIA collection.

Mount fabrication

Mount Design and Fabrication

The mount designer and fabricator, working primarily in wood, metal and plastic, creates mounts for safely displaying the huge variety of artworks in the DIA’s collection ranging from complex 3-D objects to paintings.

Conservation Projects

The Magnet's Flow, Cover, 1964, drypoint printed in colored inks on parchment, stretched over thick paperboard; Joan Miró, Spain. Gift of Arthur Schwartz

Miro Portfolio Cover

This portfolio cover, dated 1964, by the Spanish artist Joan Miro was designed to hold an edition of sixteen prints. Numerous condition problems were cleaned upon arrival.

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Analysis of Murillo

The Infant Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness

A chance visit to Meadow Brook Hall by DIA curator Dr. Salvador Salort-Pons led to the discovery of a significant work by the 17th-century Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

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Gracehoper outside the DIA

The Gracehoper Conservation Project

Gracehoper, Tony Smith's monumental, painted-steel sculpture on the DIA's North Lawn, has suffered from nearly 30 years of exposure to harsh weather and natural corrosion. 

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