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Toledo Museum of Art opens the conservation vault for rare view of major works

Libbey Glass Dress
Libbey Glass Company (American, 1892-1919), Dress, 1893, spun glass threads, Gift of Florence Scott Libbey.jpg

The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) presents a rare glimpse at works that have largely been out of public view for several decades in State of the Art: Revealing Works from the Conservation Vault, on view Sept. 24, 2022-Feb. 5, 2023. The exhibition will highlight works that require specialized care and stewardship to improve their condition, both aesthetically and for their long-term stability. Visitors will also learn about the crucial role art conservators play in keeping the Museum’s collection safe and preserved for future generations. 

State of the Art: Revealing Works from the Conservation Vault will feature paintings, sculpture, metalwork, textiles and works on paper created between the 1500s and the 1990s. Highlights include a glass dress from the Libbey Glass Company, intricate lacework slated for display in the Cloister Gallery and Randolph Rogers’ sculpture Ruth Gleaning.

“We are entrusted to steward the artwork in our collection, but that work requires constant vigilance,” said Adam M. Levine, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “State of the Art gives greater visibility into this work by providing a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation efforts required to maintain our renowned collection for future generations.”

Treatment needed for works in this exhibition includes examination, analytical testing, cleaning, repair and preventive care. Some of these treatments may result in a dramatic improvement in appearance, while other applications will be more subtle. Through text and comparative imagery, State of the Art will demonstrate the impact of conservation efforts that will extend the longevity of the art for the enjoyment of museumgoers far into the future.

State of the Art: Revealing Works from the Conservation Vault is an evolution of TMA’s “Adopt an Artwork,” a program that allows visitors to participate in the restoration process by financially supporting the conservation of a specific artwork identified by TMA’s collections team. During the run of the exhibition, a new round of 17 works will be up for adoption through this program. New to the program this year is a crowdfunding campaign that will allow more community members to support the conservation of one object in particular, the Libbey dress—the only complete full-spun glass fiber dress by Libbey Glass remaining in the world. 

For more information on donating toward the ongoing care of the Museum collection, contact Kate Messa at kmessa@toledomuseum.org.

State of the Art: Revealing Works from the Conservation Vault is organized by the Toledo Museum of Art and curated by Andrea Gardner, senior director of collections and curatorial affairs. This exhibition is sponsored locally by season sponsor ProMedica and presenting sponsors Susan and Tom Palmer, with additional support from Taylor Automotive and Bill and Cathy Carroll. The show also is made possible in part by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically.