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Tuesday, May 30 • 9:00am - 9:30am
(Opening General Session) Revision & Reflection; The Conservation/Restoration project of the Ghent Altarpiece

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In October 2012 the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage began a five-year conservation/restoration campaign for the Ghent Altarpiece painted by the Van Eyck brothers (1432). After an extensive preliminary study in 2010 it was decided that the main focus of the project would be a conservation treatment carried out in three phases rather than a comprehensive restoration. This treatment would take place in front of the public in the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (Belgium) where an exhibition gallery was redesigned as a conservation studio. With the first phase finished (two years behind the initial schedule) we could look back on how this conservation treatment took a completely different turn after the varnish removal. The paper will focus on how, although a comprehensive pre-study was conducted, unforeseen findings resulted in a reconsideration of the scope of the project. What are the implications when one changes course mid treatment? How do you challenge decisions that were made well before the conservation team was assembled? How to neutrally address significant financial and timing consequences to all the different stakeholders, when the conservators are challenged on what the outcome of the revised treatment should be? What is the impact of these changes for the future two phases of the project? These thorny issues will be addressed by the author`s personal experiences in these unique circumstances as the projects on-site coordinator for the past four years. This case study could be of particular interest to the American conservation community, as strict oversight from multiple entities (both religious and political) is a more common occurrence in Europe.

avatar for Bart Devolder

Bart Devolder

Onsite Coordinator for the Restoration of the Ghent Altarpiece, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
Bart J. C. Devolder received his M.A. in painting conservation in 2002 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium. He held internships at the Akademia Sztuk Pieknych Krakow, Poland, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA), Brussels and at the Musée du Louvre... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 9:00am - 9:30am CDT
Regency Ballroom Ballroom Level, West Tower