Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Art Materials Collection at the National Gallery

The West Wing, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has one of the most prestigious conservation departments in the country, with science and conservation labs for sculpture, paper, paintings, frames and the study of conservation science. 

In 1994, Zora Sweet Pinney and her husband Edward donated a collection of about 6000 art materials to the Conservation Department to start an Art Materials and Study Center, so that conservators and researchers could have access to samples of paint, brushes, paper, pigments, pencils and pastels, technical materials and trade literature.  Since their original gift, several other large contributions have been donated, including complete lines of paint and mediums from many manufacturers, totaling more than 18,000 items in the collection.  The most valuable pieces in the collection, however, are not actual art making materials, but rather the technical brochures and catalogs showing complete lines of materials.  There are also contributions from significant artists, such as Richard Diebenkorn and Roy Lichtenstein with some samples from their studios, including palettes.  

The collection is intended for those wishing to study the materials that may no longer be available, or for which they may need to compare to modern day paints, pigments or brush types.  The collection houses paints in their original tubes as well as drawn downs so that each sample is guaranteed to be viewable and test worthy for decades to come.  The entire collection is housed in the West Wing of the National Gallery and cataloged digitally on a database for easy perusal.  

With Zora Pinney's interest in brushes, the collection includes hundreds that she donated and more being added regularly, including many from Dynasty Brush.  These are housed in a large flat file, with archival foam padding and paper to protect them for years to come. 

If you wish to donate to the collection or would like further information about the collection, contact Michael Skalka, Conservation Administrator at the National Gallery of Art.  (To protect Mr. Skalka's email from spam, respond to this post and I'll gladly put you in touch with him.)

Keep Painting,
Karyn

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.