Art Institute of Chicago Appoints New Conservators

The Art Institute of Chicago is pleased to announce the appointments of new conservators in two departments at the museum: Antoinette Owen as senior conservator of prints and drawings, and Sylvie Pénichon as conservator of photographs. Owen and Pénichon join the staff of more than 25 conservators and conservation scientists in multiple conservation centers and laboratories at the museum, including paintings, objects, photographs, prints and drawings, textiles, and research science.

"One of our missions here is to protect works of art for future generations," said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute. "As a result, we have built, over the decades, world-class facilities and a staff of conservators and scientists to ensure the longevity and integrity of our works of art. The appointments of Antoinette Owen and Sylvie Pénichon, both accomplished professionals with significant research to their respective names, allow us to continue to lead the field in cutting-edge scientific inquiry as well as the use of the most advanced techniques and processes to preserve and protect our collection."

Antoinette Owen, who begins her tenure at the Art Institute on January 6, 2014, was the head paper conservator at the Brooklyn Museum, which she joined in 1986. There she founded the paper conservation department and designed a laboratory now staffed with several conservators and one preparator who treat a diverse paper-based collection with holdings from a variety of cultures and time periods. Owen and her department were heavily involved in two major exhibitions earlier this year: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum and John Singer Sargent Watercolors. These exhibitions required extensive conservation treatments and technical analysis with material research, as reflected in essays in both catalogues.

A graduate of Newcomb College at Tulane University, Owen received her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Program in Cooperstown, New York. Her wide experience includes teaching a graduate course at Pratt Institute and conducting a pre-graduate conservation internship program at the Brooklyn Museum; serving as the consulting paper conservator to the Montclair Art Museum and the Jewish Museum; early training and experience as conservator of prints and drawings at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; receiving a Mellon Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and even a brief previous period at the Art Institute working with former paper conservator David Chandler.

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by Barry Kostrinsky