Press release date: 
Thursday, May 27, 1999

The Morgan Library, which is now celebrating its seventy-fifth year as a public institution, announced today a $10-million gift from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust to support conservation activities at the institution. This will include a new facility, expanded staff and activities, and a program of study and training. Along with the Center, the Library will develop a separate exhibition planning department to handle responsibilities currently carried out by its Conservation Department. According to Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of the Morgan Library, "With such munificent support, the creation of a new conservation center will greatly enhance our ability to preserve, care for, and present the collections that are held in the Library's trust. I am particularly pleased to announce that the new Center will be named The Thaw Conservation Center in recognition of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw's extraordinary and wide-ranging contributions to the Library.

"This gift, so magnanimous itself, follows Mr. and Mrs. Thaw's many other acts of generosity to the Library, including the promised gift of their 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. It is particularly gratifying to know that we will be better able to care for these works, as well as our other holdings, because of additional support provided by these same great benefactors. Soon, we will systematically undertake conservation of the nearly 300,000 objects in the Library's collection, implementing a plan that was developed over the last year."

"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," stated Mr. Thaw, "and we are happy to move the process along."

The Thaw Conservation Center
The Thaw Conservation Center will be a world-class laboratory for the conservation of works on paper—drawings, books, and literary, historical, and music manuscripts—as well as a place for conservation studies and training. Margaret Holben Ellis, the Sherman Fairchild Chairman of the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, has been appointed Director of Conservation Planning. Ms. Ellis will continue as Chairman and Professor at the Institute while overseeing the creation of the Center. She also will be responsible for the design and implementation of a graduate-level educational program, an international exchange, and a collaborative analytical research network as well as for assessing future staffing needs and development.

"I envision The Thaw Conservation 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 Ms. Ellis. "I hope I can share with the Library's highly respected and knowledgeable staff my abilities as a practicing conservator as well as my experience as an administrator and educator. The invitation to plan such a center, in all its aspects, was an overwhelming honor and irresistible challenge."

Patricia Reyes, Mellon Conservator at the Morgan Library, said, "It is an unprecedented and welcome opportunity to work with others, as we plan how to equip, all at once, an entirely new facility. With the Center's expanded services, we will carry out a much larger range of conservation activities than ever before. And, as it will serve as a training center, I am looking forward to an ongoing collaboration with the next generation of conservators."

The multifunctional Center will occupy the entire 5,600-square-foot fourth floor of the Morgan House, doubling the size of the current conservation facilities at the Library. It will include designated areas for wet and dry treatments of the collections (both paper and book conservation), advanced seminars, graduate internships, and post-graduate fellowships, and for matting, framing, and exhibition preparation. The Center will provide the safest, most effective environment for the care of these objects and for the conservators who handle them. The most advanced lighting, ventilation, communications, climate control, and other technical equipment will be installed to ensure the safety of staff and art alike.

The Thaw Conservation Center is being designed by the New York–based firm Samuel Anderson Architect. "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 is evolving in close collaboration with the Library's administrators and conservators to ensure 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 at the Harvard University Art Museums. Mr. Anderson, who earned a Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union, in 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.