Working collaboratively across many departments at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the conservation team is responsible for the physical preservation of artworks in the Museums’ collections and those shown at the de Young and Legion of Honor in temporary exhibitions. As conservators, we work to understand how an artwork is constructed, the chemistry of the materials used to make it, and how they might change or deteriorate in different environments over time.
While we focus on the physical aspects of the artwork, we try not to lose sight of preserving its intangible aspects, too. For this, we learn about an artwork’s historical context, as well as its conceptual, functional, and cultural significance.
Understanding the less tangible aspects of an artwork, especially when it is created within a culture different than our own, requires incorporating varied viewpoints and experiences that museums have too often ignored. This understanding does not come from research or specialized expertise alone. It requires seeking out and listening to other voices. Our Museums’ commitment to anti-racism means making the time for this work.