Cooper-Hewitt Announces Appointment of Objects Conservator
Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Annie Hall as the museum’s first objects conservator, made possible through support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Hall will study and interpret the museum’s vast collection, collaborate with curators, trustees and the public, gather and disseminate knowledge of the highest scholarship about the unstudied objects in Cooper-Hewitt’s collection and plan for the long-term care of the objects. Prior to this appointment, the museum has had to rely on freelance conservators to treat objects on an as needed basis for all installations, exhibitions and loans. “Hall brings remarkable experience and expertise to the museum, and she will continue to fulfill our mission through her ability to preserve and care for our incredibly diverse objects,” said Curatorial Director Cara McCarty. “Conservation and preservation of Cooper-Hewitt’s holdings is vital for the safety and longevity of the objects within the collection.”
In 2006, the Mellon Foundation awarded Cooper-Hewitt a $1 million challenge grant, that when fully matched, will create a $2 million endowment fund to support the position of objects conservator. The grant also included $100,000 in spendable funds to enable essential equipment purchases required by the position for the Cooper-Hewitt’s new, state of the art objects conservation laboratory. In late 2009, prompted by the imminent completion of new lab, the Mellon Foundation awarded an additional grant of $260,000 to allow the museum to fill the post while it continues to fundraise to match the challenge grant. With generous assistance from trustees and friends of the museum, Cooper-Hewitt is currently at 50 percent of its goal toward raising the full endowment and successfully completing the Mellon Foundation’s challenge.
The need for a dedicated objects conservator was especially pressing because of the museum’s RE:DESIGN—its expansion and renovation project that is slated for completion in 2013—which will include transforming the first floor galleries to showcase the permanent collection. The galleries on the second floor will be expanded and a new gallery on the third floor will also be created to allow for much larger and varied exhibitions. Due to the re-programming of space, most of the permanent collection will now be held in an offsite facility with a new state of the art objects conservation lab. Hall is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, where she wrote her thesis on ethical considerations in the conservation treatment of Tibetan sculpture. She has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago; the Field Museum, Chicago; the Auckland Museum, New Zealand; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, Britain.