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Stripped bare and bathed: The preservation of Dali's masterworks at the Dalí Museum
Cleaning the Ecumenical Council. Photo: Chuck Bendel. Courtesy The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL.- The Dalí Museum announced its latest exhibition Stripped Bare and Bathed: the Preservation of Dalí's Masterworks is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the dramatic process of preserving works of art.

The new Dalí Museum opened January 11, 2011 with its inaugural exhibition La Revelación. Visitors experienced the first-ever display of all 96 oil paintings from the museum’s collection at one time. The exhibition was the realization of an essential part of the museum’s mission: the presentation of the work of artist Salvador Dalí. With Stripped Bare and Bathed: the Preservation of Dalí's Masterworks, the museum demonstrates an equally essential part of its mission: the preservation of these priceless works for future generations.

A team of eight conservators have cleaned and re-stretched four of the museum’s eight Masterworks: Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid, 1963; The Ecumenical Council, 1960; The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, 1959; and The Hallucinogenic Toreador, 1970. This is a painstaking and dramatic process, which the curators decided to share with the public. For two weeks in the summer, June 11–June 22, visitors watched experts at work on the Masterworks. A live video feed recorded and projected the details of the process, which took place in the Hough Family Wing of the museum. Each day at 3pm a conservator answered questions from visitors. This rare opportunity for public engagement in the process of preservation is a first for the museum.

The museum presenting a video documentary of the process from start to finish, which will be projected in the Hough Family wing and remain on view through September 9.

The head conservator for the project, Rustin Levenson, gave a comprehensive overview of the conservation project. Levenson is the President and Founder of Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates, New York and Miami. She was a part of the conservation staff of the Fogg Museum (1969-1973), the Canadian Conservation Institute (1973-1974); The National Gallery of Canada (1974-1977); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1977-1980). She is a Fellow both in the American Institute for Conservation and The International Institute for Conservation, and has served on numerous professional committees, as well as chairing the Paintings Specialty Group of the American Institute for Conservation. Stripped Bare and Bathed: the Preservation of Dalí's Masterworks is curated by Joan Kropf, Dalí Museum Deputy Director and Curator of the Collection, and co-curated by Assistant Curator Dirk Armstrong.

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August 4, 2012

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