The Curator’s View: Care and Conservation of Art

This post is from the desk of Linda Jansma, Senior Curator.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is a member of the Canadian Museum Association and adheres to their ethical guidelines. Those guidelines include the following paragraph about collections:

Museum collections consist of natural or cultural (i.e. manmade) objects and intellectual property directly owned by the museum, as a public trust, and registered as part of its permanent collection, to be used for the exclusive purposes of preservation, research and presentation to the public.

This week, I read a plain language version of this guideline that came through the American Association of Museums. It reads:

Know what stuff you have
Know what stuff you need
Know where it is
Take good care of it
Make sure someone gets some good out of it. Especially people you care about. And your neighbors.

Well, the RMG has a lot of stuff it has to take care of and part of that care is conservation. Recently, two works from the collection were returned from a conservator that we regularly use: Across the Fields, Newtonbrook by Frederick Brigden and Nature Morte by Jeanne Rheaume. Both treatment reports include a lot of conservation jargon, for example:  “weave distortion,” “drip mark,” “consolidated scratch.” Suffice it to say, the paintings were really dirty and certainly did not look like they did when they left the artist’s studios in 1935 (Brigden) and 1961 (Rheaume).


Before conservation


After Conservation

Above: Nature Morte by Jeanne Rheaume, 1961





Above:  Across the Fields, Newtonbrook by Frederick Henry Brigden c. 1935

The above photos give you an idea of the miracles of ammonium cirtrate (pH 7.8), EDTA/Troton, XL/Benzyl alcohol and citric acid/Brij. (Ah, if only there was a plain language version of conservation reports!)

Look for the Brigden painting currently hanging in our Permanent Collection gallery, and look forward to seeing the Rheaume to come out of the vault in 2013.

Free Family Programming for 2013

Happy New Year!

It isn’t an overstatement to say that in 2013 the RMG has big plans to expand our programming to include lots of new free opportunities for families to engage with art. We love our community and we know that families work hard all week and want to hang out on the weekend and have quality family time. We’re hoping that in 2013 you’ll choose the RMG once a month as a place to learn, connect, and communicate with your family through the creative arts.
In 2012 we launched the incredibly successful OPG Second Sundays program. It’s a free art workshop series on the second Sunday of each month, sponsored by Ontario Power Generation. We had a great response and held many jam-packed art workshops. Due to popular demand, we’re expanding that program this year so that registration is no longer required, and all are welcome! All families should drop-in between 1 and 3pm on the Second Sunday of each month to work with gallery staff on guided art projects with themes celebrating the Lunar New Year as well as our many exhibitions.

Check out the OPG Second Sundays Schedule here.

ImageWe’re also introducing a new space in the gallery that is dedicated to families who want to visit the exhibitions with kids, and provide a chance for them to play, learn, and be inspired by art. Linger in the new Imagination Station! This space is currently being transformed into a family-friendly area with seating, books, toys, craft supplies, and cool interactive tools that will inspire, educate, and engage kids of all ages and abilities. The Imagination Station is launching in February, with an opening party on Family Day, Monday, 18 February. We are opening on Family Day for the first time in 2013 and are offering a free program to families. Come check out what we’re up to from 1-3pm. Enjoy light refreshments and a chance to try out the new Imagination Station (we’re calling it iStation for short!) The following weekend, we begin the regular iStation schedule, with the space being managed by trained educational volunteers who will help manage and guide craft projects, every Saturday and Sunday. 

You might think that was all we planned to offer in early 2013…but you’d be wrong! We’re also hosting a Festival of Colours celebration for families on Sunday 24 March. Phew!

ImageIf you’ve ever considered enrolling kids in our PA Day Camps, March Break Camps or Summer Camps, these free family sessions will help familiarize you and your kids with staff and the facility, so that the transition to full day camps is easy and exciting.

The RMG’s staff and volunteers are looking forward to meeting new families and connecting in new ways our community. If you have any questions about our free family programming, do not hesitate to connect with us. Email us at [email protected] or drop us a line on facebook at