Arcadia University Accepted into Conservation Center for Arts and Historic Artifacts’ Philadelphia Stewardship Program

July 27, 2016 Caitlin Burns

The Conservation Center for Arts and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), one of the largest nonprofit institutions for art preservation in the country, has selected Arcadia University to participate in its 2016 Stewardship Program.

Sponsored by the William Penn Foundation, CCAHA’s Philadelphia Stewardship Program is designed to assist nonprofit art collecting institutions in achieving their preservation and conservation goals for their art collections. Working with CCAHA staff, participating institutions learn about the preservation needs of their collections and buildings and develop long-range plans for addressing those needs. Institutions also have the opportunity to obtain assistance with emergency planning efforts or get support in updating, creating, or refining essential policy documents. Other institutions who have participated in the Stewardship Program include the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the Betsy Ross House, the Lutheran Archives Center, the Please Touch Museum, and Westtown School.

Arcadia University’s permanent art collection contains some 500 works, examples of which can be seen in offices and public spaces throughout campus. Highlights of the school’s holdings include lithographic prints by former art department chair Benton Spruance (1904-1967), items acquired through Arcadia University Art Gallery’s “Works on Paper” series purchase award, and a large assortment of functional ceramics and statuary from Africa and Asia donated to the school by art collectors David and Karina Rilling. The collection also includes works on paper and canvas by Jane Gaeyer ’56, a selection of which are currently on view in the University Commons Art Gallery and Great Room Lobby through Aug. 21.

For the first time, Arcadia has been awarded the opportunity to participate in the preservation needs assessment phase of CCAHA’s program. As described by the CCAHA’s website, this initial process “encompasses a general evaluation of the institution’s preservation needs for the collection and is the first step in developing a preservation plan for collections. In addition to pinpointing areas of concern and recommendations for improvement, the assessment is widely recognized as a valuable tool in fundraising for collections care.”

“We are very excited and honored to have the support of such an esteemed organization as we move forward with the next phase of planning for the University’s art collection,” said Matthew Borgen, exhibitions coordinator for the University. Over the past two years Borgen and his work-study students have undertaken an extensive survey of campus offices and storage spaces to identify and document works of art in order to create a comprehensive inventory. Students from the Department of Art and Design have also been occupied with the task of researching the history of the works and the artists who created them. This information has been compiled in a new searchable database developed for the exhibitions program by university relations.

According to Borgen, “At this point in our efforts we have a strong sense of the works the University has in its possession, and a solid understanding of their cultural and educational significance. For the University, the timing is ideal for a group of experts to come to our campus, analyze our collection and facilities, and make recommendations concerning the best means of moving forward to ensure the long-term sustainability of our collection.”

Once CCAHA has submitted its report, Arcadia will be eligible to apply for a matching grant of up to $2,500 in order to implement recommendations made in the assessment. Members of the CCAHA staff will be making their visit to campus at the end of July.

For more information about the work of the CCAHA visit their website: www.ccaha.org. For inquiries concerning Arcadia University’s permanent art collection, or if you believe you know the location of an uninventoried work of art, please contact Matthew Borgen at 215-517- 2629 or borgenm@arcadia.edu.

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