What is Conservation?
Conservation refers to the steps taken towards the long-term preservation of cultural property. This can include examination, documentation, preventive care, and conservation treatment – all of which are supported by research and education.
“Conservation” and “restoration” are terms that are often mixed up. Restoration is a type of conservation treatment that focuses on the aesthetics of an object – trying to make it look “new” again. Conservation, includes that visual element, but focuses on stabilization (physical and chemical), while maintaining the historic and artistic integrity of the object. This is achieved through careful and deliberate use of materials with good ageing properties, and striving towards treatments that are reversible.
A professionally trained and practicing conservator is bound by the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. It is important to understand that your works are being examined, documented, handled, and treated by a professional who follows a nationally established and recognized set of standards. This is what distinguishes a professionally trained conservator from others who claim to do the same work. Conservators are highly trained individuals with a comprehensive understanding of chemistry, art history, and conservation practice.
Stacey M. Kelly is an independent conservator of works on paper in Salt Lake City, Utah.
She has held positions in various cultural institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (ACMAA) in Fort Worth, Texas, The Marriott Library at the University of Utah, The Glucksman Conservation Center at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and Alnwick Castle in the UK. Currently, she is the conservator at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA).
As an independent conservator, she has served private collectors, art galleries, as well as institutions like the Brigham City Museum of Art and History, and the Moab Museum.
Kelly has treated numerous works of art by major artists, as well as important historical documents. Among them are John James Audubon’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, an aquatint by Mary Cassatt, a pastel by Everett Shinn, albumen silver prints by William Henry Jackson, a watercolor by Charles Russell, illuminated manuscripts from Europe as well as the Islamic World on parchment and paper, a page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and the Idaho State Constitution.
She received her M.A. degree with Distinction in Conservation of Fine Art, with a focus on works of art on paper from Northumbria University in the UK. She is a Professional Associate member of AIC – The American Institute for Conservation – a status which requires peer review, and a member of WAAC – Western Association of Art Conservation.
Research, publications, and featured articles
A documentary showing the conservation treatment of the Idaho State Constitution.
Idaho’s Constitution Revealed, Idaho Public Television, Idaho Experience
Park City Mining Map from 1908, A conservation project at the University of Utah, Marriott Library, Preservation Department. You can read the full article showing the steps taken to complete this large-scale treatment.
“Characterization of the Aniline Dyes in the Colored Papers of Jose Posada’s Prints Using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry to Aid in Developing a Treatment Protocol for the Removal of Pressure-sensitive Tapes”, The Book and Paper Group Annual, Vol.36.
Kelly, S. M, Niven, J., Prestowitz, B., and Walker, E. (2014) Aqueous Treatment of Early 19th Century French Prints in the Archives of The Devonshire Collection Poster Presented at the Gerry Hedley Symposium, Courtauld Institute of Art, UK.