Visual Arts

Meet the Head of Conservation

Level 9, 10, VCE
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As head of Conservation at the NGV Michael describes the role of the Conservation team caring for the entire collection as well as works of art that enter the buildings. Often this involves assessing and documenting loans to ensure safe travel. Michael physically works with objects by studying and observing them, assessing an object’s condition, discussing restoration treatment, pigment analysis or changes that have occurred over time, as well as exploring and documenting the collection. Michael describes his career pathway and explains that his team come from different backgrounds including science, practising artists, and other specialist fields.

Ideas for using this resource

1. What is the role of a conservator?

Watch this interview with the NGV’s Head of Conservation and think and write about:

  • The role and function of Conservation in the NGV
  • A typical day in the Conservation department
  • Professional skill and abilities needed to work in conservation
  • Key developments and decisions made in determining a career in Conservation
  • Methods and considerations involved in the conservation and preservation of artworks in an exhibition Use the Student Notes template as a guide for your listening and recording the role and function of the Conservator and the work they do to bring an exhibition to the public.

2. Respond to an exhibition – conservation focus Visit an exhibition in an informal or formal setting. This could be an exhibition in your local community (eg. school art exhibition or community art exhibition), or a commercial gallery (that displays and sells art), or a public gallery such as the NGV.

Identify what environmental factors (ie. light, humidity, temperature, dust and insects) might potentially pose risks to the artworks and how the artworks are protected from these risks.

Describe other potential risks for artworks in this environment and how have the artworks been protected from these? (ie consider how works are displayed to protect from crowds, touching etc)

Choose 2 artworks and discuss what evidence you can observe of preventative conservation in the way they are displayed (ie framing, plinths, lighting)

Discuss what factors may need to be considered in the handling, transportation and storage of two or more works in the exhibition.

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