Princeton University Art Museum names Elena Torok as its first Associate Objects Conservator

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Princeton University Art Museum names Elena Torok as its first Associate Objects Conservator
Princeton University Art Museum Associate Objects Curator Elena Torok.

PRINCETON, NJ.- The Princeton University Art Museum has appointed Elena Torok as its associate objects conservator. Torok comes to Princeton from the Dallas Museum of Art, where she contributed to conservation efforts for exhibitions, loans, new acquisitions and a collection of more than 26,000 objects. She began her new role at Princeton on June 1.

Torok joins Princeton at a transformative time as construction is underway on the Museum’s new building designed by Sir David Adjaye. Torok’s expertise will be pivotal in advance of the facility’s opening in late 2024, as Princeton reimagines its gallery spaces, inviting visitors to experience collection displays that span centuries and encompass the globe while crossing cultural and chronological borders. Torok will prepare works for relocation to and installation in the new building as well as assist with opening a new two-story conservation studio under the leadership of Chief Conservator Bart Devolder.

“Elena’s breadth of conservation experience from archeological materials to contemporary art will make her a tremendous asset as we prepare to welcome visitors to a wholly new facility,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, class of 1976, director.

As Princeton’s first objects conservator, Torok will help shape a program to conserve three-dimensional works in the museum’s collections, which date to the institution’s founding in the 18th century. These collections include Greek vase-painting, Roman sculpture, and objects made of stone, terracotta, wood, ivory and diverse modern materials. Works come from the ancient Mediterranean, Egypt, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

In the past year, Torok has served on planning and installation teams for several Dallas Museum of Art exhibitions, including Concentrations 63: Julian Charrière, Towards No Earthly Pole; For a Dreamer of Houses; and My/gration. These exhibitions presented unique challenges, such as freezing plants with liquid nitrogen for display in refrigerated vitrines, installing large-scale timed-based media and preparing collection works to be on display for the first time at the museum.

Prior to her work in Dallas, Torok served as the Yale University Art Gallery’s project conservator on a team tasked with moving approximately 35,000 objects from art storage to the institution’s new Wurtele Collection Studies Center, an experience that will be beneficial in Princeton’s forthcoming transition.

“I am thrilled to join Princeton’s team during this new phase of growth and expansion.” said Torok. “The University offers unique and exciting opportunities for collaboration and research, and I look forward to working with new colleagues on the conservation and care of the collections.”

Torok holds a master’s degree in objects conservation from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur program and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary neuroscience with minors in art and art history from the College of William & Mary. Her scholarship has been published by Yale University Press, the Getty Conservation Institute and others. Later this year, Torok’s recent research on the early plastic sculptures of Naum Gabo will appear in Art/Work: Plastics, published by Princeton University Press. She also contributes to preventive conservation through her involvement with the American Institute for Conservation.

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