The Cleveland Museum of Art announced today that it will open a conservation center dedicated to Chinese paintings with the $1.5 million gift it received from June and Simon K.C. Li. The donation matches a $1.5 million endowment challenge grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“Chinese paintings are a special strength of our collection,” said museum director William Griswold. “While these superb works occupy a critical place in Chinese art history, they also represent a major conservation challenge given the fragile nature of the materials used to create them. The shortage of qualified Chinese paintings conservators is a widespread dilemma faced by museums across the country. The generous gift by June and Simon K.C. Li and challenge grant from the Mellon Foundation will enable solutions that will effect great change in the industry and ensure the care of Chinese paintings for generations to come.”
Due to what the museum described as a lack of Chinese painting conservation expertise in the United States, in 2013, it partnered with the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC, to initiate a training program for conservators. The following year, the CMA hired a professional from the program it helped launch and then invited senior conservators from institutions such as the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum for extended periods of time to provide mentorship.
Through the new Li Center for Chinese Paintings Conservation, the CMA will be able to launch a new annual residency program for emerging conservators of Chinese paintings. The participants will be given the opportunity to travel to Cleveland to further their studies and work on the museum’s extensive collection of Chinese artworks.