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Founded in 2001, the Whitney's conservation department preserves works of art in the Museum’s collection so that they may be exhibited and made accessible to scholars and the general public. From the outset, it was designed to be both a treatment and research center; it embraces innovative approaches to the treatment and technical study of works of contemporary and modern art. Conceived as a partner with the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museums, it shares in the Center's dissemination of information through teaching, lecturing, and publication.

Case Studies

The conservation department makes and implements decisions regarding treatments through constant review of the collection, and in response to requests to display specific works. The goal of every treatment is to present the work as originally intended insofar as we know through artist interviews and other avenues of research. In some cases, works that are known to be unstable are considered for treatment regardless of exhibition priorities. 

Artists Documentation Program

The Artists Documentation Program (ADP) interviews artists and their close associates in order to gain a better understanding of their materials, working techniques, and intent for conservation of their works. The ADP was established in 1990 at The Menil Collection, Houston, by Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the former chief conservator at the Menil and currently the Melva Bucksbaum associate director for conservation and research at the Whitney and founding director of the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museums. The program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art and Harvard Art Museums.

Visit the ADP website

Conservation Fellows

Conservation Fellows is a support group that focuses on the Whitney’s research involving artists’ materials and techniques. Participants engage in ongoing discussions regarding trends and challenges specific to the preservation of works included in current exhibitions or unconventional works of art in the Whitney's collection.



Replication Committee

The Replication Committee addresses issues related to the duplication of works of art in the permanent collection and/or related collections for various purposes associated with the Museum's program. It meets monthly to discuss pressing issues of replication and associated matters of refabrication, exhibition copies, and authentication. The intent is to institute a more rigorous and consistent approach in terms of policy and practice through critical review of precedent within the institution with an eye toward resolution of current issues. 

The Replication Committee is made up of curators, conservators, the Head Registrar, the Manager of Rights and Reproductions, the Director of Research Resources, and General Council. The work done by the committee was recently featured in The New Yorker magazine. 

In the News

Support for Conservation at the Whitney Museum of American Art is provided by the Whitney’s Conservation Fellows with endowment support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.