The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University recently completed a preservation needs assessment of the University’s permanent collection thanks to a Preservation Assistance for Smaller Institutions Grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities’ (NEH) Division of Preservation and Access.
The grant, awarded in August 2020, funded the assessment of the collection’s policies, building and maintenance, environment, security, disaster preparedness, collections care, and preservation planning. A final 90-page report was completed in June 2021.
“Working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, with the exhibition galleries closed to the public, actually increased the amount of time we could spend reviewing all aspects of St. Lawrence University’s permanent collection—something that has not been done in such a comprehensive manner since the early 1990s,” said Catherine Tedford, director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. “Moving forward, the final preservation needs assessment report provides clear recommendations and short- and long-term goals to protect the collection and to ensure that it and related educational programs meet the academic and cultural needs of the University community and the broader North Country and beyond.”
St. Lawrence’s history of collecting art objects and cultural artifacts draws back to the early 1900s. The Gallery’s permanent collection, which is one of the most significant of its kind across northern New York, now includes more than 7,000 items in genres ranging from representational and documentary to Abstract Expressionism, Pop, character design, and others. The majority of the collection dates from the mid-20th century to present day and includes paintings, prints, photographs, portfolios, artists’ books, sculpture, ceramics, and ethnographic objects. The collection supports inquiry in many humanities subjects including identity politics, belief systems, perceptions of the natural world, diversity and multiculturalism, history and politics, health and healing, and creative expression.
The assessment was conducted virtually over a series of Zoom meetings led by Anastasia Matijkiw, Program Manager & Preservation Specialist at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts located in Philadelphia, Pa., with input from several University employees including Tedford, Assistant Gallery Director Carole Mathey, Vice President of the University and Dean of Academic Affairs Karl Schonberg, and staff members from both the Facilities Operations and Safety and Security departments. Caroline Welsh, a regional art historian, assisted as the Curatorial Advisor.
For more information on the University’s permanent collection, visit the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery website.