University of Delaware Office of Public Relations The Messenger Vol. 5, No. 2/1996 Mellon Foundation grants support art conservation program Major grants from a private foundation will fill a gap in support for art conservation training that was lost through cuts in the National Endowment for the Arts. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation grants totaling $990,000 to support fellowships for master's- level students training to be professional art conservators. "The support is particularly welcome and much needed at this time because the funding of art conservation training in the U.S. has reached a crisis point, due to reduction in funding for museums and the arts in general. In autumn 1995, the National Endowment for the Arts ceased awarding grants for training in conservation," says Joyce Hill Stoner, program director and Department of Art Conservation chairperson. She noted that the UD art conservation program had received grants from the NEA since it began in 1974, averaging $90,000 annually. "We are fortunate indeed that the Mellon Foundation has kept abreast of recent developments in conservation funding and has made this marvelous opportunity possible. Without this grant, we could not continue to accept and fund 10 new students a year." The funds from Mellon will provide $60,000 a year for four years in fellowships, $250,000 for an endowment for fellowships and $500,000 as a challenge endowment to be matched two-to- one over a four-year period. The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation accepted its first class of students in 1974 and now has 180 graduates practicing conservation throughout the U.S. and in locations abroad. There are only three programs in the U.S. that provide training in the examination, treatment and preservation of paintings, sculpture, decorative and archaeological materials, works of art on paper, textiles, furniture and photographic materials. Graduates of the Wintherthur/UD program head the conservation laboratories at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (textiles), the National Museum of the American Indian (objects), the National Museum of African Art (objects), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (paintings), the Yale Center for British Art (painting) and the National Gallery of Art (sculpture). Two graduates are employed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and have treated a number of notable paintings by Rembrandt. Two students have elected to go into the treatment of natural history materials, and one of them treated medical specimens for the Mutter Medical Museum of Philadelphia last summer. In 1990, the UD Department of Art Conservation established the first doctoral program in art conservation research in North America. Seven students are now enrolled in that program, researching topics ranging from stone deterioration to the techniques of Abstract Expressionist painters. B.D. Nandadeva from Sri Lanka is expected to be the first to complete his doctoral degree this August, on the topic of the materials and techniques of Sri Lankan mural paintings. Although funds to train new professionals have been severely curtailed, the need for professional conservators in still keen, Stoner says. Many museums in the southeastern and northwestern U.S. still have lamentable storage conditions, lack of climate control and no professional conservators in the museum or in the region, she says.