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Secrets of art conservation shared at open house at Buffalo State

An early map of Buffalo, a pair of Japanese muskets, a Roman amphora and even a bust of Eisenhower that are being restored by students and faculty of the Buffalo State Art Conservation Department will be shown to the public during the department's annual open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 28 on the second and third floors of Rockwell Hall.

"The annual open house provides a tangible way for us to connect with the public," said Patrick Ravines, associate professor and director of the department. "Many people don't know that we exist, even in Buffalo." The department, one of only three in the nation, moved to Buffalo State from Cooperstown in 1987. It accepts 10 students a year into its three-year program.

Preparing for the open house "keeps the students and professors here energized and motivated,"  said Ravines.

During the open house, work will be shown and questions will be answered by the program's graduate students and by art conservation professors, including Theresa Smith, a paper conservation specialist who was hired during the summer. Smith and her students will show visitors the early map of Buffalo, on which they are just beginning conservation treatment.

Conservation students will also display techniques of egg tempera panel painting, which was  the primary method of painting until oil painting took over in the 1500s.

In the conservation imaging and documentation studio and lab, visitors will see how ultraviolet radiation can be used to find problems such as mold and fungus that are invisible to the naked eye on paintings, engravings and books. Infrared radiation, which Ravines said " 'sees' below surfaces," can also detect earlier work under paintings, including re-used canvases or the artist's own changes.

In the conservation science lab, a professor and students will demonstrate the X-ray fluorescence spectrophotometer, which is used to identify the elemental composition of objects, especially metals and inorganic compounds.

Graduates of the Buffalo State Art Conservation Department have gone on to work in  the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "We want to give Buffalo State that recognition, that we are exporting high quality graduates" to such prestigious institutions, said Ravines.

This free event provides the only opportunity for the public to learn about the Art Conservation Department without an appointment.

For more information on the open house, call 878-5025 or visit the department website.

email: aneville@buffnews.com

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