The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) is the city’s largest public arts institution. Composed of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the FAMSF is one of the largest art museums in the United States. The FAMSF conservation staff includes specialized professionals in the areas of painting, objects, textiles and works on paper. Together with the curators, the conservation staff carefully monitors all of the works in the FAMSF’s collections, removing from storage or exhibition those that require treatment.
There are two critical aspects to taking care of works of artistic and historical value — conservation and preservation. Conservation concerns the correction of problems affecting a work of value, such as previous repairs and damage. Preservation is a proactive practice, seeking to minimize –and if possible, prevent — the effects of environment and other factors on a work. The Spark “Preservation” episode features two conservation staff members, Tony Rockwell and Carl Grimm, as they use a combination of art and science to restore George Bingham’s “Boatmen of the Missouri River” and a portrait that may have been painted by El Greco.
In another episode, called “Threads,” Spark learns about traditional Borneo textile weavings and the gender and social power significance of such traditional art forms. While traditional gender roles in Borneo directed women to weave the textiles and men to headhunt, the two practices were considered socially equal. Diane Mott, textile curator at FAMSF, explains the ways in which the weaving as well as their female creators were integral to the cultural practice of headhunting.
More about the de Young Museum
Where: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco
Phone: (415) 863-3330
Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young is San Francisco’s oldest museum. Its collections include American paintings, decorative arts and crafts, and arts from Africa, Oceania and the Americas as well as Western and non-Western textiles. The de Young is particularly recognized for its many educational arts programs for children and adults. The de Young museum reopened in 2005 in a magnificent new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron.
More about the Legion of Honor
Where: 100 34th Ave., San Francisco
Phone: (415) 863-3330
Built to commemorate California soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor is a beautiful Beaux-arts building located in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco. The Legion of Honor displays a collection comprising 4,000 years of ancient and European art. The collection includes Rodin’s “Thinker,” which sits in the museum’s Court of Honor, European decorative arts and paintings, ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country.
Watch preservationists breathe new life into art works created decades or even centuries ago.
See how the tradition of fabric art weaves its influence into contemporary artworks.