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April 28: Art Conservation Research Center Receives $3.87M From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Jocelyn Duffy                        

Carnegie Mellon's Art Conservation Research Center
Receives $3.87M From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

PITTSBURGH—The Art Conservation Research Center (ACRC) at Carnegie Mellon University's Mellon College of Science has received $3.87 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In addition to supporting scientific research at the center, the grant will allow the ACRC to offer pre-doctoral as well as postdoctoral fellowships, promoting the field within the academic community and training the next generation of conservation scientists.
ACRC The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been the primary sponsor of the ACRC since its inception. One of the oldest research centers at Carnegie Mellon, having been founded as part of the Mellon Institute in 1950, the center was created to address issues of importance to the National Gallery of Art. Its research agenda originally included applications of color science, studies of the damaging effects of light exposure, and the development of new picture varnishes based on synthetic polymers.
While the ACRC is no longer associated with the National Gallery of Art, it retains its original focus on scientific research that enables better care for cultural property, by discovering the origins of aging problems and developing practical, effective, and safe strategies to prevent, slow, or repair deterioration. Recent work has included studies of the aging chemistry of paper and acrylic paints, evaluation of new conservation treatments for paper and development of a non-invasive probe to measure an artifact's sensitivity to light damage. Through these research studies, the ACRC helps museums, libraries and archives improve the ways they care for their collections. The center has collaborated with a number of institutions, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and the Pompidou Center in Paris, helping to preserve and restore important works of art in their collections.
In addition to providing operating support for the center's scientific research, the renewal funding will also help the center expand its efforts to strengthen the field of conservation science in the United States. According to ACRC Director Paul Whitmore, the majority of conservation science is based in museum laboratories, which presents challenges to engaging technical experts in academia and industry, finding sustained support from sponsors of scientific research and bringing new talent into the field. The graduate and postdoctoral fellowships that the center can now offer will introduce new scientists to this applied research field and provide essential specialized training for pursuing scientific research on art objects.
Carnegie Mellon's Mellon College of Science maintains innovative research and educational programs in biological sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and several interdisciplinary areas.  

For more information on the ACRC, visit