Welcome

Hello,

Thanks for visiting my site.  My name is Christian de Brer and I am an art conservator focused on cultural objects, archaeological artifacts and modern ethographic works.  Protecting our artistic treasures and cultural heritage is my passion and my lifelong pursuit. I have 12 years experience in the conservation profession garnering a multitude of skills while traveling the world.  I am currently the Director of Conservation at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, where I am responsible for the long-term care of over 160,000 objects.  Below are some of my recent conservation efforts including materials research and presentations.  On the left side menu are links to treatment images, a slew of information about my history, a bit about the profession of conservation, and quick tips for protecting your art and artifacts.

Click here to see my Top 10 Conservation Tips for collectors

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Sunday
Jun092013

Promoted to Head of Conservation

In February 2012, I was promoted as Head of Conservation for the Fowler Museum at UCLA after 6 months as interim Head.  This is an absolute dream job of mine as I get to work with an amazing collection of 160,000 non-western artworks and artifacts.  During my interim time, I began modernizing the lab and updating the condition and treatment report process.  A digital photography studio area was created in one section of the lab and reports are now heavily image based with conditions annotated and easily revisable.  I also began bringing in more interns to help.  I have also been working hard on forging a strong symbiotic relationship with the UCLA/Getty Masters Program in Conservation.  The program borrows objects for the students to perform analysis and treatments, often presenting the results.  The student work helps out my department and the presentations showcase the collection of the Fowler Museum to a wider conservation and museum community.  A recent UC/Mexus grant was awarded to the Chair of the UCLA/Getty program to study objects in the Fowler Museum's collection.

Sunday
Jun092013

Using magnets to display delicate artworks

Recently I was given the task of determining an appropriate mounting solution for an exhibition on barkcloths from Papau New Guinea and Central Africa.  The works had to hang vertically and I could not pin, stitch or glue hinge the barkcloths to backing boards without damaging them.  So after some research and consultation, I decided to use rare earth magnets.  Rare earth magnets are extremely strong and can hold a sizable load.  A 1/2" diameter x 3/8" depth can hold almost 5 lbs!  I utilized a metal foil with an adhesive backing that was placed around the edges of the backing boards.  The magnets were painted to match the barkcloths and places around the edges.  The magnets successfully held up the barkcloths for the length of the exhibit without damaging them.  Click here for article I wrote about mounting with magnets that is pending publication.

Sunday
Jun092013

Assistant Collections Manager

After working through contract positions at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, I was promoted to Assistant Conservator/ Assistant Collections Manager.  In this position, I have aided both the Collections and Conservation departments in any way I can, from packing and housing to assessing condition and treating.  I am gaining a vast amount of knowledge about all aspects of the museum.  I was also recently the courier for a Fowler exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art where I installed a Korean ceramic artists work.  The artwork consisted of a 3 tiered metal unit with over 200 ceramics stacked within the shelves.  Some images of the work can be seen here: http://www.fowler.ucla.edu/exhibitions/life-in-ceramics

Monday
Dec082008

Past News

Southern Peru field work

While fieldwork in Peru in 2009 was spent primarily in Vitor, 2010 fieldwork involved a whirlwind tour of Southern Peru's archeological sites, cultural museums and government storerooms.   The work centered primarily on cosultations and investigations.  While establishing a field school in 2011 might be put on hold for a bit for logistical reasons, there is a ton of consultation work to still be performed, making for many return trips to Peru.  Click on the "Field Projects" link on the side to get more information and images.


The Vincent Price Art Museum

The museum has an incredible selection of Pre-Columbian ceramic vessels that are in need of conservation care and mounts for the museum's new exhibition space to be completed in June 2010. I am initially treating several of the pieces that are to be displayed.


Conservation in Vitor, Peru

I was recently hired as the lead conservator at an archaeological site in Southern Peru near Arequipa.  I traveled there last summer, where I treated several ceramic surface remains and established a conservation laboratory.  The site is pre-Inca (probably Huari) and has an incredible hilltop cemetery overlooking three volcanoes.  In 2011, I will be creating a conservation field school through the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology either at this site or at others in Peru.


Hungarian Paintings

I am working on a series of 19th - 20th century Hungarian paintings in a private collection. Most are on canvas, except for one which is painted on metal. The paintings are being researched, examined under different lighting conditions, and treated for losses and yellowed varnish. The display environment is also being analyzed.


Victorian Farmhouse
The paint layers of a late 1880s Victorian Farmhouse were examined to determine if the ghost of a porch post could be found along one of the walls.  In all, 11 layers of paint were found that were removed using a variety of solvents. However, the ghost of the post was not found.


Art Deco Mosaic Fountain

I am currently working on an early 20th century mosaic fountain at a private residence.  The fountain has disfiguring past treatments and large cracks that prevent it from holding water.  The cracks are to be filled and lost mosaics are to be replaced with mortar that is carved and colored to match the surrounding tesserae.


Getty Publications

I recently have been employed at the Getty to edit, update and design publications for the Mosaics in Situ field project of the Getty Conservation Institute. Currently, I am working on literature reviews of mosaic deterioration, treatment, reburials and shelters that will be published and available in early 2010.  I also recently completed work on a training manual for conservation of mosaics in situ (excavated and exposed). The training manual originated from conservation and management teachings performed by the Getty Conservation Institute in Tunisia. It is meant to help government organizations and institutions, conservators and technicians throughout the Mediterranean treat, manage and maintain their Hellenistic and Roman mosaics that remain in archaeological sites. If you are interested in the training manual, you may view a downloadable .pdf of the manual in English. The manual is also available as a .pdf in French and a hard copy version in Arabic.

 

Exhibitions at the Fowler Museum


The Fowler Museum at UCLA has been keeping me busy. I have been doing contract work involving installation and housing of objects, paintings, prints and didactic materials for their current and upcoming exhibits. I have also designed several of their exhibits.The work has been very creative and educational, allowing me to experience all aspects of the museum workplace not just conservation. I now believe I have a true understanding of what it takes to put on an exhibit.  If you are interested in professional, museum-quality installation of your artworks, contact me.

 

Mosaics Conference

In October 2008, I was in Palermo, Sicily working for the 10th conference of the International Conference for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM). I reported on the lectures, assisted in creating the closing remarks for the President of the ICCM and helped with several presentations. The work kept me quite busy and I spent most of my time in Palermo. However, I was able to go on several excursions with the conference that were scattered throughout Sicily. We visited churches whose interiors were covered with incredible mosaics created in the 12th century and archaeological sites with some of the most impressive mosaics in the world, such as at Piazza Armerina.

 

 

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