The Art and Science of Conservation: Behind the Scenes at the Freer Gallery of Art

Conservation and Scientific Research

Long before the Freer Gallery of Art opened its doors to the public in 1923, museum founder Charles Lang Freer regularly brought specialists from Japan to care for the Asian artworks on view in his Detroit mansion. These early forays into the care, maintenance, and restoration of Asian art continue today in the Freer and Sackler Galleries’ Department of Conservation and Scientific Research.

Like many major museums, the Freer and Sackler use a valuable combination of conservation and scientific methods to study works of art. Our scientists and conservators strive to improve methods of preservation, educate others in conservation practices, and conduct research into materials, such as the mineral qualities of jade that help identify sources in China.

Our scientists, conservators, and specialists collaborate closely with the museums’ design, exhibition, and curatorial departments. Together, they safeguard the collections, ensure the proper display and storage of significant objects, and contribute to the ever-growing understanding and appreciation of Asian and American art.



The conservation staff at the Freer and Sackler Galleries is responsible for the preservation and treatment of artworks in the collection, as well as preparing these objects for exhibition. The Department of Conservation and Scientific Research includes sections devoted to:
East Asian Paintings


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