Art Con student Christina Taylor working on a painting

Exhibit Highlights Art Conservation Work through the Decades


As part of Buffalo State College’s Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department’s 50th anniversary celebration this year, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is opening a comprehensive exhibit Friday, August 14, featuring works conserved by department faculty members and students.

Along with watercolors spanning the career of Charles E. Burchfield, Fifty Years of Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Western New York contains an early twentieth-century platinum photographic print by Marie Thibaudeau, a painting by Seymour Drumlevitch, and a bronze sculpture by Charles Cary Rumsey.

The exhibit also includes two oil paintings and a watercolor painting on paper from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, as well as a pair of moccasins, a basket, and two beaded purses from the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York, that have been expertly conserved and restored by the department’s graduate students and faculty.

Seventy-seven pieces in the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s collection have been conserved by the department since the conservation program moved to Buffalo State College in 1987.

Photograph of buildings by Thibaudeau

Marie Thibaudeau, Caesar’s Tower, Nyon, c. 1910; platinum print on paper, 8 ½ x 6 ¼ in.

“The very first pieces were conserved when the art conservation program was still located in Cooperstown, New York,” said Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Penney’s head of collections, who is overseeing the exhibition. “We’re thrilled to be able to highlight the department’s work on our collections, as well as those owned by other esteemed institutions.”

Patrick Ravines, associate professor and director of the Garman Art Conservation Department, noted that the exhibit will inform the public of the many wonders and intricacies of preserving artifacts.

“It will address the material nature and unique problems each object had experienced, and how faculty and graduate students creatively solved these problems to bring the pieces back to life and ready to exhibit,” Ravines said. “Photographs taken before, during, and after conservation, as well as some of the technical scientific documentation in the detailed reports, will accompany a selection of objects to demonstrate the range of work undertaken.”

The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, also known as the Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, is lending four artifacts: two nineteenth-century Seneca beaded purses, a pair of New York Haudenosaunee women’s moccasins dating from about 1800, and an early twentieth-century splintwood basket by Nancy Bowen (Seneca, Allegany).

Four pieces from the Albright-Knox collection include nineteenth-century oil paintings by Hans Olde and an unknown artist, a realistic painting of water droplets that Korean artist Kim Tschang-Yeul created in 1977, and a 1951 watercolor by Diego Rivera.

Artwork by Drumlevitch

Seymour Drumlevitch, Illuminations for the 21st Century - Catalan and Petenera, 1972; acrylic on canvas, 84 1/4 x 50 1/8 in.

Located in the Margaret L. Wendt Gallery on the first floor of the Burchfield Penney, the exhibit will run through November 29, 2020.

The art center will reopen on Friday, August 14,for the first time since closing in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to M&T Bank’s sponsorship, admission will be free. Visitors are encouraged to join or renew their memberships and discover more online offerings on the Burchfield Penney website.

About the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department
Founded in 1970, Buffalo State’s art conservation program is one of the leading programs of its kind in North America. Accepting only 10 students a year, the competitive three-year graduate program educates conservators of fine art and cultural heritage. Graduates can be found in the conservation labs of major institutions across the United States, including the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Pictured top: Inpainting by art conservation alumna Christina Taylor, '15, 2013.