Dr. Art

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At the Denver Art Museum more goes on than meets the eye. Most of the art you see has been through many processes to be cleaned and made to look better. We talked to Gina Laurin, a Senior Objects Conservator, about what she does. Ms.Laurin said that she works with three-dimensional textiles.

She told us about the pieces she was working on. One of the pieces was a red french coat, just finished. We learned that the coat was the kind of coat that a man in the king’s court would wear, maybe a duke. The coat has been put to many tests to return its original beauty. However, Laurin isn’t restoring the coat, just making it look more presentable. The coat dates back to the 1750s.

Another one of Laurin’s projects is a dancing mask worn by native tribes in Nigeria. The mask is made of many different fabrics sewn together. It is worn over the head and has a woven textile area to breathe through. After it is put on there is a wooden monkey head to balance on the dancer’s head.

Laurin uses lots of different tools on the job, many of them doctor’s or dentist’s tools. Laurin showed us the tools in Lab 1. There were sponges, brushes, q-tips/swab-sticks, solvents, dental tools, scalpels, and treatments. All objects that come into the lab must be frozen, to kill the bugs on the textiles without using pesticides. Most objects also get a dry clean which is basically a dusting. “…I am a doctor of the arts, I use the same tools,” laughs Laurin.