updated: 5/3/2011 12:52:20 PM

IMA Gift to Endow Science Position

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has received a $1.5 million gift from the estate of Otto Nick Frenzel III to endow the senior conservation scientist. The position, held by Dr. Gregory Dale Smith, was established through a $1.75 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant in 2008, which required a match within three years. Frenzel was a longtime Indianapolis philanthropist and former IMA trustee.

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May 3, 2011

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, IN— A $1.5 million gift from the estate of Otto N. “Nick” Frenzel III has fulfilled a challenge grant to endow the Indianapolis Museum of Art senior conservation scientist position for the Museum’s Conservation Science Laboratory. The position, held by Dr. Gregory Dale Smith, was established through a $1.75 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant in 2008 which required a match of $1.5 million within three years. The $1.5 million match is part of a $1.8 million gift from Mr. Frenzel’s estate.

“Thanks to the generous support from Otto Frenzel III, the IMA Conservation Science Laboratory is well positioned for success in its inaugural operating year and many to come,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA.

Frenzel (1930-2010) was a longtime Indianapolis philanthropist and former IMA trustee. His son, Otto Frenzel IV, is a current IMA trustee.

Now the Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist, Smith joined the IMA in December 2009. He has since led the IMA team in outfitting the laboratory with scientific equipment funded through a previously announced grant of $2.6 million provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc. In addition to Smith, the lab is staffed with two other Ph.D. scientists with specialties in biochemistry and nanomaterials. Under Smith’s leadership, the IMA opened the state-of-the-art conservation laboratory in March 2011.

Plans to build the Conservation Science Laboratory were announced in October 2008 to complement the IMA’s existing expertise in the care and treatment of works in its collection. The Conservation Science Laboratory augments the IMA’s potential as a resource for training and professional development by helping the IMA foster partnerships with universities and corporations involved in central Indiana’s growing role as a hub of the life sciences industry, as well as establishing scientific research and art conservation collaborations with major museums worldwide.

The IMA’s expanded conservation resources support research and publication by museum conservators, scientists and curators to continue to build the IMA’s reputation as an industry leader in the fields of conservation, collections care and art history. The IMA’s lab joins an esteemed group of science labs at other leading arts institutions in the United States: the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harvard Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Getty Conservation Institute.

Gregory Dale Smith, Ph.D.

Smith previously served as the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Conservation Science at Buffalo State College, one of only three graduate programs for comprehensive art conservation training in the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in physical/analytical chemistry from Duke University and has completed postdoctoral research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and at University College London.

Smith’s research interests include studying condition issues affecting modern polymers used in art, pigment degradation processes, and the development and testing of innovative conservation treatments. Smith’s academic and professional career is distinguished consistently with honors and awards, including a Marshall Sherfield Postdoctoral Scholarship to study in Britain, National Science Foundation Research Fellowships, and a Barry M. Goldwater Science Scholarship. He also has performed five seasons of archaeological fieldwork and archaeometry in Galilee, Israel, serving as field chemist and field supervisor with the Sepphoris Regional Project, Sepphoris Acropolis Excavation, and the Cana of the Galilee Project.

Smith has authored numerous articles for journals in the fields of chemistry and conservation and is a highly sought-after lecturer for symposia in the field of art conservation. He is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), associate editor for the AIC’s professional journal, a member of the AIC Education and Training Committee, and a former Chair of the AIC Research & Technical Studies Specialty Group.

History of IMA Conservation

The IMA has continually been a leader in museum conservation. In 2007, the IMA became one of the first U.S. art museums to acquire a digital x-ray unit, which led to a major discovery about the internal structure of African Songye figures. The museum’s professional conservation efforts started in the 1940s, with the museum hiring well known first-generation American conservators such as Sheldon Keck, James Roth, and Louis Pomerantz to preserve some of the museum’s finest paintings. The museum became a charter member of the Intermuseum Laboratory in 1952 and incorporated a small, custom-designed conservation laboratory into the new Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1970. In 1975, the appointment of Martin Radecki as Chief Conservator led to the implementation of the American Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works ethics and standards for practice and established a preventative program for collections care. Radecki also oversaw several expansions of the laboratory and added professional conservators with expertise in paper and objects conservation to complement existing paintings and textile conservation staff.

The conservation department, now occupying 7,700 square feet, currently has a staff of six conservators (with specialties in paintings, paper, objects and textiles), two conservation technicians, and a digital imaging technician to care for the museum’s collections. In the past IMA conservators have also performed conservation work for other institutions and public collections, conducting numerous treatments, facility surveys, collection surveys and on-site mural conservation—including the Thomas Hart Benton mural cycle at Indiana University.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Encompassing 152 acres of gardens and grounds, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is among the 10 oldest and 10 largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States, and features significant collections of African, American, Asian, European and contemporary art, as well as a newly established collection of design arts. The IMA offers visitors an expansive view of arts and culture through its collection of more than 54,000 works of art that span 5,000 years of history from across the world’s continents. The collections include paintings, sculpture, furniture and design objects, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as textiles and costumes.

Additionally, art, design, and nature are featured at 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park and Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, an historic Country Place Era estate on the IMA grounds. Beyond the Indianapolis campus, in May 2011 the IMA will open to the public the recently acquired landmark Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. One of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences, the Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley.

Recognizing the IMA’s positive impact on its community, the Museum was named a recipient of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Services – the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The IMA’s commitment to free general admission, programming for schools and teachers, environmental leadership and online initiatives were among cited community contributions in the Museum’s selection for the award.

Located at 4000 Michigan Road, the IMA and Lilly House are open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The IMA is closed Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. For more information, call 317-923-1331 or visit www.imamuseum.org.

Source: Indianapolis Museum of Art

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