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THE THAW CONSERVATION CENTER OPENS

Released on February 19, 2002

The Thaw Conservation Center at the Morgan Library, a world-class laboratory for the conservation of works on paper—drawings and literary, historical, and music manuscripts—as well as a place for conservation studies, opened in February 2002. Occupying the entire 5,600-square-foot fourth floor of the historic Morgan House, the Thaw Center more than doubles the size of the previous conservation facilities and includes designated areas for wet and dry conservation work, matting and framing, advanced seminars, graduate internships, and postgraduate fellowships. It provides the safest environment for the care of objects as well as for the conservators who handle them. The advanced lighting, ventilation, communications, climate control, and other technical equipment will afford broader investigation, treatment, and training opportunities.

In July 1999 the Morgan Library announced a $10-million gift from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust to support conservation activities at the institution, including the new facility, expanded staff, and an educational program. According to Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of the Morgan Library, "This munificent support of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw enabled us to create this new conservation center, which is at the very heart of the Morgan's mission and activities as a major research library and museum. The Thaw Center will greatly enhance our ability to preserve, interpret, and present the collections that are held in the Morgan's trust. The facility carries the name of Mr. and Mrs. Thaw in recognition of their extraordinary and wide-ranging contributions to the Library."

"My wife and I felt that the Morgan with its great collections should have an equally great department for the preservation and restoration of such collections," Mr. Thaw stated, "and we are happy to move the process along."

"The support of the Thaw Center and related activities, so magnanimous itself, follows Mr. and Mrs. Thaw's many other acts of generosity to the Library, including the promised gift of his entire collection of drawings and his important role as a Trustee." Dr. Pierce continued, "They have assembled over forty years a collection of drawings that is the best in private hands. Gifts and promised gifts from these holdings greatly enrich the Library's collections of drawings and watercolors. We will be better able to care for these works, as well as our other holdings, because of these same great benefactors. Soon, we can more systematically undertake conservation of the approximately 350,000 objects in the Library's collection."

The New York–based firm Samuel Anderson Architect designed the Thaw Center. "The Thaw Center's program," noted Mr. Anderson, "includes requirements for generous natural northern light, specific yet flexible treatment and teaching areas, precise climate control, and an open collegial character. Our design, developed in close collaboration with the Library's administrators and conservators, ensures not only that it carefully fulfills all requirements but also physically reflects the Center's fundamental goals."

Samuel Anderson Architect recently completed the award-winning Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies and the Agnes Mongan Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Harvard University Art Museums. Mr. Anderson, who earned a Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union, New York, as well as an A.B. degree with honors from Harvard College, served as project architect on the Busch-Reisinger Museum/Werner Otto Hall, Harvard University Art Museums, while with Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. His firm, begun in 1991, has completed numerous residential, commercial, and institutional projects.

Margaret Holben Ellis, Professor of Conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she served as Director of Conservation Planning, has been appointed Director of The Thaw Conservation Center.

"I envision the Thaw Center as a place of dynamic interchange among conservation and curatorial professionals, supported by a state-of-the-art facility and encouraged by a variety of academic opportunities," commented Professor Ellis. "The invitation to plan all aspects of the Center with the Morgan's knowledgeable conservators was an overwhelming honor and an irresistible challenge."

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.