Located at the de Young Museum, the Sardegna Paintings Conservation Center is devoted to the preservation, study and treatment of the nearly two thousand paintings in the European and American Art Departments and their frames. From the reduction of a yellowed varnish from a 17th-century Italian painting to the reattachment of flaking paint on an early American portrait or the removal of a grime layer on a 20th-century abstract work, the conservation treatment activities of the department are as varied as the paintings in the collection.
Taking into account the artist's materials, methods, and intent, conservators undertake technical research on paintings using such techniques as X-radiography, infrared reflectography, and examination under the microscope to better understand how the works were made and any changes they have undergone. In addition to the study and treatment of paintings, conservators in the department have a variety of other responsibilities such as checking the condition of paintings when they enter and leave the museum, monitoring the temperature and humidity in the galleries, and accompanying paintings when they are loaned to other museums. The department also oversees the treatment of frames in the collection.
Paintings conservation is staffed by head of paintings conservation Elise Effmann Clifford and paintings conservators Tricia O’Regan and Tony Rockwell, as well as conservator of frames and gilded surfaces, Natasa Morovic.