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Conservation and Cover Letters

JUL 21, 2012

Whitney Conservator Heather Cox talks to YI Summer participants. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Whitney Conservator Heather Cox talks to YI Summer participants. Photograph by Correna Cohen

On July 18, Youth Insights Summer Intensive were introduced to art conservation with the help of Whitney Conservation Coordinator, Heather Cox. I’ve always been curious to know what would happen if an artwork is damaged or destroyed. The care and preservation of all the Museum’s works is the Conservation Department’s job! The Whitney’s Conservation Department was designed to be both a treatment and a research center. It protects the works in the Whitney’s collection so they can remain on view to the public.

However, this requires a good group of detectives–the Conservators. The process is quite long. When possible they talk with the artists and work with the people who originally owned or handled the artwork. When conservators begin to work on the actual piece of art, they must do so with slightly different, and removable, materials so that future conservators will understand what is original and what has been “fixed.” The goal of every treatment is to show the work as originally intended, so that the public may enjoy an informed–and awesome–viewing experience.

YI Summer participant Wiley plays the part of a serious employer interviewing a potential employee. Photograph by Correna Cohen
YI Summer participant Alex interviews Evelin for a position as a research assistant. Photograph by Correna Cohen
YI Summer participant Dalila takes note of Elizabeth’s answers. Photograph by Correna Cohen
The scene in the Whitney Studio as YI Summer teens interview each other  for (hypothetical) jobs. Photograph by Correna Cohen
YI teens Emiliano and Miao strike a friendly tone during their mock interview. Photograph by Correna Cohen
“This is why I’m right for the job,” YI teen Kristin explains to Ramsey. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Not only did Youth Insights receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Conservation Department on Wednesday, we also got to practice our interviewing skills–on each other. There are pretty common questions that are asked in a job interview such as: “What do you think is your greatest weakness?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Why should we hire you?” and so on, and these can definitely be intimidating. However, preparing ourselves to answer them in a way that could emphasize strengths forward made us feel more confident about any interview!

By Evelin