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Research Centers

Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art

Founded in 2001 with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art (CTSMA) is dedicated to studying the materials and issues associated with the making and conservation of modern works of art. CTSMA serves as a resource for conservators, scholars, and students by collecting, preserving, and presenting relevant research and materials. These include artists’ materials and interviews, documents related to conservation assessments and treatments, and ephemera associated with the creative process.

CTSMA collects documentary material such as studio detritus and discarded trials, which provide a view into the artist’s creative process. Archives of treatment reports, associated correspondence, and other documents from noninstitutional conservators of modern art are kept at the center, preserving a historical record of the physicality of selected objects. The center also collects photographs of artists’ studios and documentation of artists at work in various media. These provide information about artists’ working methods and often show studio conditions and works of art in various states of completion.

The center interviews artists and continues the work of the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), which CTSMA founding director Carol Mancusi-Ungaro initiated in 1990 at the Menil Collection (Houston). A partnership between the Harvard Art Museums, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Menil Collection, the ADP website includes interviews with prominent artists about their materials and techniques, as well as their intent for the future preservation of works of art, providing enhanced scholarly access to digitized archival materials.