Parma Conservation
Parma Conservation Laboratory
Parma Conservation Laboratory
Parma Conservation Laboratory
The Parma Conservation laboratory occupies an 8,000 square foot facility for the conservation of artwork; a process that requires experienced, highly-trained professionals who understand the subtle balance between chemistry and art. The conservators at Parma use state-of-the-art materials and techniques enhanced by meticulous craftsmanship. We are familiar with the challenges of 400-year-old frescoes slowly degraded by time, as well as 30-year-old paintings marred by accident. Parma's large space and high ceilings accommodate artworks of extreme dimensions. We have an 8’ x 16’ heated vacuum table and a 10’ x 30’ mechanical easel. Our large loading dock and freight elevator provide easy access for the delivery of large artworks, entire collections, or claims. Our facility is climate controlled, and has 24-hour security both in our space and for the entire building.

Large or small, every work of art is different. It is the artwork itself, its unique combination of materials, history, and present condition that guides our choice in all materials and methods involved in conservation. Our goal is to clean and preserve what the artist originally created and intended.

Our approach to conservation is to introduce as little foreign material to the artwork as possible, thereby respecting and preserving the originality, the chemical make-up, and the aesthetic qualities of the work. We work with the philosophy that "less is more".

This is the reason we repair and reuse original stretchers whenever possible. It is also the reason that "lining" is done only under extreme necessity. And of course, it means that all of the products that we use are of the highest quality available, are compatible, and completely reversible.

Much of Parma's work is done "on-site" on murals in post offices, schools, churches, libraries, and private residences. We offer complete on-location services, including scaffolding, in order to provide the same high quality, museum-standard conservation that we provide in the laboratory.

At Parma, we take great pride in our work. We believe that our commitment to conservation is a great asset to your artwork.


Raking Light Raking Light
Raking Light  

Raking light is one of the tools we use to discern irregularities in the plane of the textile support and paint layers. In this example, there is a dramatic difference between perpendicular lighting, which makes the painting appear to be in good condition, and raking light, which reveals the painting's pronounced craquelure, tented paint and precarious condition.
Parma Conservation Laboratory - Cleaning

Cleaning painted surfaces is a very delicate undertaking. Every painting is uniquely different, owing to the endless variation and complexity in artists’ materials and methods. The challenge is in identifying and removing everything unoriginal, including: discolored resins and varnishes, previous restoration paints, surface accretions, grime and other soiling materials that obscure the intended beauty and legibility of the artwork. It is the artwork’s unique makeup that must be fully understood in order for it to be safely and effectively treated.

Whenever possible, our cleaning solutions are administered in the form of gels. The use of a gel considerably reduces the penetration of the cleaning agent into the layers of a painting. Gels can also be applied with precision and confined to specific areas on the surface, which makes them easier to control than liquid solutions. More importantly, the use of gels enables us to utilize solvents that are much less polar and less volatile when removing soiling materials or oxidized resin coatings. This considerably reduces the risk to the paint layer.

Cesare Dandini's painting after conservation; photograph taken under ultra violet lightCesare Dandini's painting after conservation
Ultra Violet   

Long wave U.V. lights can be useful for identifying non-contemporaneous (unoriginal) coatings, additions, and/or previous restorations. In the sample shown, ultraviolet light is revealing inpainting on this 16th century Italian painting.
Parma Conservation Laboratory - InpaintingParma Conservation Laboratory - Inpainting

Inpainting is a term that describes our technique for precisely compensating paint losses. Our inpainting is very technical and controlled, limited only to the area of actual loss. Using various and specific inpainting technique tailored to the age, make up, and condition of each artwork enables us to best reflect the intent of the artist. Example: minimal inpainting to a 15th century panel painting.
Parma Conservation Laboratory - MicroscopyParma Conservation Laboratory - Microscopy

Parma's work in cleaning, filling and inpainting is often carried out with the assistance of binocular magnification. In the example shown, what appeared to be dirt and grime was actually discovered to be a miniature figure and dog.