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Professional workshops

Mastering in painting workshop

Conservator working on inpainting techniques during the Mastering Inpainting workshop, August 2005

Professional workshops

Symposium: The Meaning of Materials in Modern and Contemporary Art

In 2012, the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) Paintings Special Interest Group symposium will be combined with the final year symposium for The Twentieth Century in Paint Australia Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project and the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art's Centre for Contemporary Art Conservation. The event coincides with the opening of the Gallery's 'The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT7) and its weekend of opening events.

The Meaning of Materials in Modern and Contemporary Art aims to explore artist’s intent towards the materials they use.

10 - 11 December 2012 | Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
For more information visit


Conservation initiatives supported by the Gallery of Modern Art include a series of hands-on professional workshops for conservators.

2008  | 2005  |  2004  |  2003  

New methods for cleaning paintings
28 July – 1 August 2008  

New methods for cleaning painted surfaces of 3D objects
4–8 August 2008

In July–August 2008, the Gallery of Modern Art hosted two five-day intensive courses for conservators interested in new cleaning methods for painted and coated surfaces. During the courses, instructor Richard Wolbers presented participants with a general survey of the theoretical principles needed to evaluate and formulate tailored aqueous and solvent-based cleaning systems.

Topics included:

  • the characterisation of surfaces
  • an overview of aqueous and solvent techniques
  • chelating/complexing materials
  • thickeners, gels, pastes and poultices
  • resin soaps
  • enzymes and emulsions.

Case studies illustrating the use of these principles in relation to paintings and 3D objects were presented during morning lecture sessions. Afternoon practical and discussion sessions followed. The aim of these workshops was to better inform participants about the formulation of tailored preparations for both surface cleaning problems (soil removal), and problems relating to coating and re-painting/over-painting removal.

Richard Wolbers is an Associate Professor in the Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, United States. His academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry) and Masters in Fine Arts (Painting) from the University of California, and a Masters in Science (Art Conservation) from the University of Delaware. His research interests lie in developing cleaning systems for fine art surfaces and in applied microscopy techniques for characterising decorative materials. He has conducted workshops throughout the United States and Europe, and he is the author of Cleaning Painted Surfaces: Aqueous Methods (Archetype Books, 2000). 

Mastering inpainting

2-5 and 9-12 August 2005

In August 2005 the Queensland Art Gallery hosted a four-day intensive course for conservators wishing to improve their mastery of inpainting skills. Course instructor, James Bernstein, provided a broad overview of this topic, and considerable attention was paid to details which are critical to different inpainting situations. Inpainting refers to the use of conservation-quality pigments, mediums and techniques to compensate for loss and/or damage to the original paint film of an art work.

The course was a combination of lecture, discussion and laboratory sessions. Mock-ups and a basic range of inpainting media were provided for studio sessions, and a multi-disciplinary viewpoint was emphasised. Conservators from diverse specialisations and backgrounds — traditional paintings and/or modern paintings — were invited to interact and share their knowledge and experiences with colleagues.

Instructor James Bernstein is a conservator of paintings and mixed media in private practice in San Francisco, California. He is a graduate of the Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts) and the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Conservation (now at Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York State), and was Conservator and Co-director of Conservation for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for 15 years.

This workshop is presented by the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials and is a Gallery of Modern Art Conservation Initiative.

Tape and tape stain removal

In August 2004 the Queensland Art Gallery hosted a five-day technical workshop, Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes and Tape Stains, presented by Linda Stiber Morenus (Library of Congress, Washington, USA ) and Elissa O'Loughlin (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA). Linda Stiber Morenus lectured on rubber-based tapes and Elissa O'Loughlin focused on the more recent acrylic-based tapes.

Pressure-sensitive tape (commonly known as 'sticky tape') is used extensively to repair tears and losses. Tape degradation causes valuable documents and art works to become stained, discoloured and brittle.

Another challenge associated with pressure-sensitive tape, particularly for the conservation of contemporary art, is the deliberate use of tape in the construction of an art work.

This workshop consisted of a comprehensive program involving lectures, practical sessions, and a review of case studies. Participants examined the history, manufacture, identification and deterioration mechanisms of various tapes. Hands-on practical sessions demonstrated a range of techniques and treatment options for the removal of tape and tape stains. Discussions included ethical rationales for certain treatment options, and exhibition guidelines for taped items.

Participants represented both private practitioners and those working within state galleries, archives and libraries. In addition to the workshop, there was also an introductory lecture relevant to the work of museum, library and archive staff who handle and care for works on paper.

This workshop was a Gallery of Modern Art Conservation Initiative. Additional financial assistance was provided by the Ian Potter Foundation and the Book and Paper Special Interest Group of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material.


Gap filling for glass and ceramics

In August 2003, the Queensland Art Gallery hosted the technical workshop, Moulding, Casting and Gap-filling for Glass and Ceramics, for mid-career object conservators. The workshop was tutored by Stephen Koob, renowned glass conservator at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.

The workshop was a five-day intensive program of lectures and practical sessions. The workshop focused on:

  • cleaning techniques
  • removing existing repairs and adhesive selection
  • loss compensation and direct filling
  • casting and moulding techniques
  • colouring and tinting fills
  • comprehensive finishing techniques

The workshop participants represented both public and private sector specialists, and included senior conservators from five capital cities. The participants shared a wealth of knowledge and offered interesting perspectives on the care and conservation of diverse collections.

This workshop was a Gallery of Modern Art Conservation Initiative.