This lecture was originally delivered on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 as part of the Cultures of Conservation “Keyword” Panel: Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual Art.

This event is the second in a series of “Keyword” panel discussions, a new component of Bard Graduate Center’s multi-year Cultures of Conservation initiative generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The panels bring together scholars and conservators to explore four conventional values in the field of conservation practice:preservation of the material object; reversibility/retreatability or visibility of the conservation treatment; attention to the physical and conceptual integrity of the original item; and respect for the intention of the maker or artist. Across a series of diverse case studies, speakers will unpack these key phrases to reveal how contemporary conservation projects both channel and challenge standard approaches to object-based research and museological treatment.

The second panel discussion in our new series focuses on the Panza Collection Initiative at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 1991-92, the museum acquired a major collection of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art from the Italian collector, Giuseppe Panza di Biumo. These works present novel challenges in conservation. Since 2010, their care has been the joint charge of the curator Jeffrey Weiss and the conservator Francesca Esmay. Esmay and Weiss have not confined their work to practical matters alone, but, with the aid of artists and specialist scholars, they address underlying conceptual issues that often go unexamined in museums. Two scholars with extensive experience in new media conservation, and in the philosophy of contemporary art practice respectively, join Esmay and Weiss. Together they will consider big issue questions concerning the preservation of work by living and recently deceased artists, including Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Lawrence Weiner.


Francesca Esmay

Conservator, Panza Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Sherri Irvin

Presidential Research Professor or Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Oklahoma

Jeffrey Weiss

Senior Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Adjunct Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Glenn Wharton

Clinical Associate Professor, Museum Studies, New York University


Ivan Gaskell

Professor and Curator and Head of the Focus Gallery Project, Bard Graduate Center