January 12, 2016 — Art Conservation & Preservation

Science Pub RVA #30

Degradation Derailment: How Science Saves Art

Samantha Sheesley, paper conservator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, discussed some of the chemistry, techniques and challenges in remedying damage commonly associated with works on paper.

Samantha Sheesley
Ms. Sheesley moved to Richmond this past May to accept the challenge of becoming the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ first paper conservator. Prior to her arrival, she worked at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. Samantha received her MA in art conservation from SUNY Buffalo State College and a BFA in sculpture and art history from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. Making art from materials like icing, dead bees and skin, Sam’s work could be considered a conservator’s nightmare…or job security. Sheesley’s earlier professional experiences includes work with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art , the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece. In 2014 Sheesley was awarded a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome where she researched the conservation of historic globes at the Vatican Museums. Sheesley has researched, published and presented papers on oversized and mixed media works on paper, the use of magnets for display purposes, artist interviews, the use of acrylic adhesives in paper conservation, and the history and preseveration of tattoo art. Just before her move to Richmond, Sam appeared in the news for the discovery of a Cezanne watercolor at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. When not working, Sam swing dances to hot jazz and rockabilly music. Fortunately, dancing helps to balance her other favorite pastime: eating.  Richmond is a wonderful city for a foodie to settle into!


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