about

Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection includes more than 210,000 objects, which span thirty centuries and a wide variety of materials. The Conservation Department cares for and studies these pieces to ensure their preservation for today and into the future. Conservators provide expertise in the conservation of works on paper, textiles, and three-dimensional objects made of media ranging from brittle glass to pliable plastic. Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation and Senior Objects Conservator, offers a further introduction to the department.

Explore below the department’s work related to the museum’s collection and exhibitions and follow Cooper Hewitt’s Conservation Department on Instagram @cooperhewittconservation.

Stout brick-red glass vessel with amber details on its sides and amber half round removable stopper resting on its short cylindrical neck.
Year of Glass: Wild Beasts in Glass
Artist Maurice Marinot translated the bold modern painting style of Fauvism into inventive glass objects.
A glass decanter, with a bulbous bottom ascending into a narrow-necked top and a disc-like stopper, glows electric blue in a dark space.
Year of Glass: Old Glass in a New Light
An electron microscope and ultraviolet illumination can change what we know about the life of a glass object.
An oval-shaped, footed glass bowl cut with intricate geometric designs and a scalloped rim.
Year of Glass: Cut vs. Pressed
How do cut glass objects differ from those created using the innovation of pressed glass and what does this have to do with celery?
Pair of covered clear glass, inverted-bell shape drinking vessels, with knopped stems, stepped circular feet, and squat dome-shaped removable lids with baluster finials. The bodies etched with scenes of female domestic life after the birth of a newborn; the lids etched with garlands.
Year of Glass: Dutch Artistry
Written by Jasmine Keegan The United Nations has designated 2022 the International Year of Glass. Cooper Hewitt is celebrating the occasion with a yearlong series of posts focused on the medium of glass and museum conservation. Dutch glass artisans reached high levels of skill in ornamentation during the 18th century, as demonstrated in these beautifully decorated...
Screenshot from iOS app Planetary. "Artists are stars" reads text next to a brilliant sun. "Albums are planets" says text near a planet.
A Love Letter to Planetary
We’ve written before about Cooper Hewitt’s first acquisition of an iOS app, Planetary: first Seb Chan and Aaron Cope described their unique and unusual way of “collecting” the app in 2014, and then we wrote about why Planetary was no longer functioning in 2019. In 2020, however, software developer Kemal Enver remastered the work and...
Free-blown glass vase with pale blue, purple, and gold-toned iridescent body, its shape is a depressed sphere with a squarish opening that has a turned-down rim. Three irregular thick ribs line the sides diminishing to points at the base.
Year of Glass: Imitating the Ancient
Start the 2022 Year of Glass with a modern glassmaker inspired by ancient Roman models.
A large textile with a grid of blue, purple and white squares is shown in a gallery display.
Imaging Indigo with Multiband Reflectance Subtraction
by Jessica Walthew (objects conservator), Kira Eng-Wilmot (textile conservator), and Pauline Nguyen (conservation intern) Nebula by Eduardo Portillo and María Dávila is made with a beautiful variety of fibers and dyes, including indigo in different intensities and in combination with the red dye cochineal to yield a dark purple color. This woven textile features an...
Textile with step motif in reds, oranges, and natural colors shown next to an ancient clay pot depicted wearing a tunic with the same motif.
Multiband Imaging of Cochineal-dyed textiles
by Jessica Walthew (objects conservator), Kira Eng-Wilmot (textile conservator),  and Pauline Nguyen (conservation intern) Several contemporary designers featured in our current exhibition Nature by Design: Cochineal (November 16, 2019–May 25, 2020) were inspired by historic materials and chose this fascinating cochineal dyestuff for their work. James Bassler’s textile Six X Four II is made with discontinuous warps...
Gallery view showing a selection of textiles and objects on display, with pink variegated wallpaper surrounding the room.
Spotlight on Current Research: Multiband Imaging for Dyed Textiles
by Jessica Walthew (objects conservator), Kira Eng-Wilmot (textile conservator), and Pauline Nguyen (conservation intern) Cooper Hewitt’s Conservation team recently acquired a Multiband imaging (MBI) photography kit, a useful tool for investigating pigments, coatings, and other artistic materials. In preparation for the exhibition Nature by Design: Cochineal, we worked with our summer intern Pauline Nguyen to...