March 3, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010 - , 3 comments

What happens after ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime Studies?

As Business and Admissions Director of ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime Studies, I have had a number of prospective students, current students, figures in the field, and others pose this question to me. Many have often queried, "Where are the opportunities in the fields related to art crime?" While not everyone can, or will, become a private art investigator, there are still opportunities within the fields related to art crime. This is the first post in a series on life after the MA in International Art Crime Studies. The first student profiled is Julia Brennan '09.

Julia has worked in the field of textile conservation for over twenty-five years (in practice). She established Textile Conservation Services in 1995 to serve private collectors, galleries, museums, and institutions. Early training included six years in a private atelier specializing in the conservation of 16th-20th century tapestries, Oriental carpets, Asian textiles and American samplers and quilts. Ms. Brennan helped establish the textile storage and conservation facility at the Philadelphia College of Textile’s Paley Design Center, and was the editor for a manual of conservation stitches. In 1989 she received a Getty Research Grant focusing on the analysis of dyes in historic Thai textiles, as well as treatments for oriental carpets. During her five years as Assistant Conservator for Exhibitions at the Textile Museum in Washington, she prepared over 30 exhibits, and was the guest curator of a contemporary textile show on Faith Ringgold.

She does regular contract work and maintenance of textile collections for The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, George Washington's Mount Vernon and Smithsonian Institution Museums. For more info about Julia's work see her site "Caring for Textiles". Recently, she contributed a chapter on teaching preventative and textile conservation in Asia and Africa in Frances Lennard and Patricia Ewer eds. Textile Conservation: Advances in Practice. Butterworth Heinemann. March 2010, pp 336.


Mark, might it be that part of your blog news got lost for I do miss the link to art crime in this story. Did any of your students actually find a job in this field?


Ton Cremers

Thanks for your comments. Do you not think the practice of textile preservation and conservation relate to the field of art crime? Would you say the field of art crime is actually the combination of a variety of fields including art theft investigation, forgery analysis, museum security, curatorial studies, conservation management, and many more?

Ton, Mark,
Having taught on the ARCA Masters course during its inaugural summer session last year, I was privileged to hear Julia Brennan's course presentation on her work in textile conservation at the Buddhist monasteries of Bhutan and elsewhere. The thrust of her paper was exactly as Mark has described. It offered illuminating insights into material culture, not only in terms of preservation and conservation, but also critically into security implications. An accomplished and respected professional in her field, Julia was enlightened enough to see the ARCA course as an opportunity to draw upon the expertise of others in neighbouring fields in order to expand her knowledge and awareness. In the process she expanded mine and, I'm sure, that of her fellow students too.
All best wishes,