Back to Teaching & Research

Academic and Public Programs

SITSA

The Summer Institute for Technical Studies in Art is an inten­sive two-week workshop for a cohort of 15 pre-doctoral art historians from diverse backgrounds and research areas whose education to date has given them limited access to object-focused technical inquiry, methodologies, and instruction.

As the field of art history continues to evolve toward a more interdisciplinary and inclusive practice, the role of scientific inquiry and technical study is increasingly valued and sought out. And as art history students look towards careers not only in academia, but in the museum field as well, they will appreciate the important role that the interdisciplinary, dynamic dialogue with conservation professionals and artists plays in fostering a fuller understanding of the physical nature and life story of objects, and informing decisions about their preservation and stewardship.

This course aims to expose participants to the interdisciplin­ary approach and tools that are core to technical studies while fostering relationships that further collaboration, enrich research, and enhance scholarship across the field of art history and beyond. Participants will engage in close looking, art making, and scientific investigation of works of art guided by – and in dialogue with — conservators, conservation scien­tists, curators, art historians, artists, and other experts, under the direction of Francesca Bewer, Research Curator for Conservation and Technical Study Programs. Throughout the workshop students will take part in peer-to-peer teaching, discuss technical art history writing, and have opportunities to question their assumptions about the physical realties and lives of objects. Together, the cohort will explore ways in which the skills and knowledge they acquire during the course can meaningfully contribute to their research, be applied in teaching, and be communicated in different museum contexts.

SITSA builds on a long institutional history of museum training and relies on the strong relationship between the Harvard Art Museums’ conservation, curatorial, and education departments and academic partnerships across campus. The workshop will take place in the interdisciplinary, collaborative environment of the Art Museums and benefit from resources of the neighboring Department of History of Art and Architecture as well as other academic and cul­tural venues in the greater Boston area.

The workshop is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each participant will be provided with housing and a stipend of $1,500 to help cover roundtrip travel costs, food, and inci­dental expenses for the duration of the program.

SITSA 2022 will be held from June 5-18.

Course Topic: Replication
Through the theme of replication, SITSA participants will have opportunities to consider some of the thorny issues around authenticity, originality, reproduc­ibility, appropriation, and the role that replication may play in ethical stewardship.

There is a long history of artists and craftspeople creating copies or multiples of their work, producing artworks that consist of replication(s), and incorpo­rating reproduction(s) into original works. Familiarization with instruments and materials of a craft to hone skills entails repetition of gestures. Copying others’ works and artistic processes is also a time-honored practice: for some, it is an act of devotion; for others, it is adopted for greater dissemination or to serve remunerative ends.

The life of an artwork may also involve replication at various stages. Reproduction has – and continues to be — instrumental in the preservation of cultural heritage, both in acts of conservation and restoration. And various kinds of remaking and reconstruction have been commonly adopted by archaeologists and art conservators to better understand artist’s pro­cesses, for instance, or how particular works were made and have been altered over time. Increasingly, art historians are apply­ing such hands-on methodologies as well.

Guided by experts, participants will consider theoretical and practical questions about replication. They might consider the limits and possibilities of research into rep­lication (by art historians, artists, scientists, conservators, craftspeople) and what more could be learned from other disciplines. They might also investigate what kinds of new knowledge digital imaging and analyt­ical technologies can provide. Participants will be introduced to the tools used rou­tinely in conservation to gather evidence of manufacture, alteration, and restoration and will carry out in-depth examination and documentation of selected objects from the museums’ collections. Hands-on processes will include some form of casting, printmaking, analog photographic printing, and painting in combination with close examination of works and conversations with artists/practitioners. The museums’ various collections, conservation research projects, and exhibitions will form the artifactual and mate­rial backbone of the course.

Eligibility and Application Process
Students of art history currently enrolled in or completing a doctoral program in North America are eligible to apply. No background in science or conservation is required, and all specializations are welcome. A maximum of 15 participants will be admitted to the program. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of their expressed interest in integrating technical studies in their own scholarly pursuits and in the field more broadly, and their academic accom­plishments to date.

Applicants should submit a cover letter addressed to the Director of SITSA, Dr. Francesca G. Bewer, Research Curator for Conservation and Technical Study Programs, Division of Academic and Public Programs, Harvard Art Museums, that includes a statement detailing what ques­tions and unique perspective they would bring to the program as well as a brief explana­tion of how the program would enrich their work (maximum 1,200 words). This should be accompanied by an academic and pro­fessional CV, as well as a letter of support from a faculty advisor that addresses the applicant’s academic standing and their interest in the topic.

The application deadline is March 9th, 2022. Participants will be notified by April 17th.

Please submit applications in electronic format to: am_dapp@harvard.edu

Please note that all official visitors who will be on campus for an extended period or who have frequent, extended, or close interaction with Harvard community members during their visit or program will be expected to adhere to the Harvard University covid-related policies, which currently includes proof of vaccination (including booster) as well as participation in the university’s testing program. More information on health and safety guidelines will be provided following application.

Past Programs
2019 course description
2018 course description
2017 course description

2012-2016 course topics and information are available through the NYU Institute of Fine Arts.

  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder
  • placeholder