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"Untitled" before conservation

"Untitled" after conservation

"Riverscape" before conservation

"Riverscape" after conservation

With approximately 1,000 oil paintings in the collection, many of which date to the nineteenth century or earlier, The Museum is charged with the duty of preserving and caring for works of art. This sometimes means periodic cleanings and conservation treatments to keep paintings and other works of art in tip-top shape for viewing in the galleries and lending to other institutions. Dirty or damaged paintings generally do not go on public view, and thus are relegated to the storage rooms, sometimes for decades. Conservation is costly but is a priority for The Museum. The Spring Annual Purchase Party in April helped to remedy the situation with some of RPM’s paintings. Several were “adopted” through The Museum’s Adopt-A-Painting Program by attendees—this means that conservation expenses were underwritten by individuals.

Two wonderful examples of “Before” and “After” photographs show just how dramatic the results of cleaning a dirty painting can be! Both paintings were adopted in the spring and the conservation work has already been completed. One work is by George Henry Jenkins (Irish, 1843 –1914), Untitled (Irish Coast), a gift of Erika Handler Hilliker, restored through the Adopt-A-Painting Program to Honor the Irish Ancestry of Janet Kepple Opalinski, by Fred, Megan, and Kristen. The Jenkins painting was cleaned by conservator Steven Erisoty of Philadelphia. Years of grime embedded in the paint surface were removed along with some old in-painting which was retouched before a final layer of new varnish was added to the surface. Similar treatment was carried out on a small painting, Riverscape, by renowned Berks County artist John Heyl Raser (American, 1824 – 1901), a bequest of Dr. Levi W. Mengel, The Museum’s founder and first director, restored through the Adopt-A-Painting Program by an Anonymous Donor.


RPM is so grateful to individuals who are interested in preserving the past in this way, so that some of the “jewels” of the collection can shine once again!

For more information about how you can help underwrite the costs of conserving a work of art, please contact Ashley Houston, Collections Manager/Registrar: ashley.houston@readingpublicmuseum.org


June 13, 2017


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