Art ConservationCollection Care

How To Know Whether An Art Conservator Is Qualified

Finding a qualified art conservator to care for your beloved art pieces can be a nerve-wracking experience. Anyone can claim to be able to conserve artworks, yet putting your artwork in the wrong hands can have serious consequences. Since the art conservation field is so unregulated, collectors must do their due diligence when finding a conservator. But even the most discerning collectors and enthusiasts can struggle when selecting someone to work on their art pieces.

To take the guesswork out of finding a qualified art conservator, there are a few key things to investigate while researching who will take care of your artwork. Finding in-house conservators, inquiring about credentials, finding a Professional Associate certified by the AIC (American Institute for Conservation), and checking online reviews are just a few things you can do to ensure you feel confident that you are leaving your art in good hands.

1. Find a Studio with an In-House Conservator

When using a studio for art conservation, it’s important to find an art studio that has an in-house conservator. A reason for this is so that you know exactly who is caring for your art. When studios contract their work out to multiple conservators, they may not be able to tell you exactly who will be caring for your artwork. This means you won’t be able to speak directly to the conservator, which is necessary when having work done on your art.

Also, with an in-house conservator you are sure that your painting will not be sub-contracted and hence moved to a different art conservation studio without your knowledge and approval.  

When you find an art studio with an in-house conservator, you will be able to ask them important questions about their credentials, experience, and portfolio. This will also allow you to see the space they will use while working on your art. Having this personal relationship with the conservator will help you find a trustworthy professional and will put your mind at ease.

2. Inquire about Credentials

It’s important to speak directly with conservators and ask them as many questions as you need to feel comfortable leaving your beloved possession with them. If you are worried about asking too many questions, don’t. A reputable and qualified art conservator will be happy to answer any reasonable questions you many have. 

The first thing you should know about potential conservators is their credentials.

cleaning of paintings

Proof of formal education and legitimate credentials is something you should never compromise on. Once they give you their schooling or other credentials, you should do your research on the validity of their claims. At the least, you should search online for the institutions or accreditations they have given you. Doing this bit of research will weed out unqualified conservators and narrow down your list to those with legitimate skills and experience.

3. Ask to see a Portfolio

The wonderful thing about the conservation field is the existence of portfolios. A portfolio is a window into the skills and specialties of an art conservator. A portfolio can tell you which types of artwork a conservator usually works on, their skill level, and how many projects they’ve completed. When looking at portfolios, there are a few important things to check for. You will want to be sure their portfolio has before and after photos, has multiple examples of their work, and they are able to describe the work that was done. 

The right portfolio will have before and after photos for each of their projects. Portfolios that only feature after-pictures will not give a fair representation of the work.

Lastly, as you look through the portfolio, note any questions you have about the work they performed. By asking for details regarding their style or a certain method they used, it’s easier to gauge whether they had a hand in the conservation of the work or if they are bolstering their portfolio with work they may have only played a small role in. Feeling confident after looking at a qualified art conservator’s portfolio is a good sign that you will be please with their work on your art.

4. Confirm Professional Associates Status

A good clue into whether art conservators are reputable and trustworthy is their involvement with the American Institute of Conservation, or AIC. Qualified art conservators can become Professional Associates with the AIC. This means that they are peer-reviewed, and their work has been stringently observed.

Conservators who are Professional Associates with the AIC must follow its guidelines with ethics and regulation. 

These guidelines include making sure that the proper measures are taken to properly conserve the piece, protect its integrity, and avoid any methods that could result in decreasing the value of the art they work on. AIC Professional Associates make sure the artist intent is respected, so their status with the AIC is a great indicator of their professionalism and skill.

5. Check Reviews from Multiple Sources

As with most services, the internet makes it possible to check reviews from past clients. While reading the reviews, you should look for people who had the same type of work done on the same type of artwork that you are planning to have conserved. Doing this will help ensure you choose the right conservator.

Reviews can tell you which issues you may encounter on the customer service end of your experience, as well. Reviews and testimonials will give you a clue about many aspects of a conservator’s business, such as responsiveness to clients, ability to meet estimated timelines, and overall client experience. When it comes to overall satisfaction, the interpersonal aspect of a conservator can be just as important as the work being done on your artwork.

Only Trust True Professionals with Your Art

Barbara Stella, the Chief Conservator at Stella Art Conservation, checks all the boxes when it comes to finding an art conservator for your beloved artwork.

Barbara Stella’s dedication to clients is matched only by her impressive resume. Barbara has over 30 years of experience and has worked on pieces by Monet, Rembrandt, Dali, Noland and many others. 

Caring for your art

She began this work after receiving her advanced degree in fine art conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts and Restoration, Palazzo Spinelli in Florence, Italy. She is also a Professional Associate, peer-reviewed by the American Institute for Conservation. This means that, not only will she skillfully conserve your art, she will do so using methods approved by the AIC and the Institution of Preservation of Artistic and Historical Works.

Barbara Stella will examine artwork on-site or in our state-of-the-art laboratory. This allows our clients to meet the professional that will be handling their painting and see the facility that it will be treated in. The peace of mind our clients have after seeing our facility and meeting the person who will be treating their art is priceless. We understand that your artwork is an important part of your life, so our chief conservator, Barbara Stella and her team, will treat your art with the care, experience, and professionalism that all artworks deserve.