The role and mandate of Moderna Museet is not just to exhibit art but also to ensure that the works are taken care of in the best way possible, both when they are installed on public show and when they are in the museum stores. When you see the work of artists in and around the exhibition spaces only a small fraction of the conservators’ work is visible. The department is responsible for the long-term perpetuation and maintenance of the artworks through preservation activities and active conservation, for the collection in its entirety and of individual works for exhibition, loan and deposition. The conservators are also responsible for the museums outside sculptures.
Many of the techniques and materials used by modern and contemporary artists are untraditional and often made with components that quickly degrade and break down. It’s conservations role to understand how the artworks materials behave and age, whilst taking into account the intentions of the artists. New methods may have to be developed which makes the preservation of modern and contemporary art a real challenge. Documenting the works of art and the artistic process, as well as material investigations and research projects centered on objects and conservation methods are also an important part in the work. All of the different strands contribute to an understanding of the museums artworks, and how they can best be preserved and exhibited, both now and in the future.
Film on the conservation of Monogram
In 2016, Moderna Museet received a request to borrow ”Monogram” – Robert Rauschenberg’s iconic work that has come to be one of the best-loved objects in the collection. A major Rauschenberg retrospective was being planned, and would tour from Tate Modern in London to MoMa in New York, and end at SFMOMA in San Francisco. Three cities – all far from the gallery on Skeppsholmen where ”Monogram” had its home.
But was ”Monogram” really fit to travel to the other side of the world? The work consists of many parts, and there were rumours that the goat had a fractured leg. Before sending ”Monogram” off on an international tour, Moderna Museet’s conservators examined the goat thoroughly. What is it made of? And what state is it in?
Published 28 November 2018 · Updated 25 June 2019