The Morris Louis Conservation Fund (MLCF) was established in 1998 by the artist’s widow, Marcella Brenner. Between 1998 and its dissolution in 2014, MLCF encouraged and supported the study and professional conservation of works by Louis owned by public institutions in the United States. MLCF also actively supported research and technical coordination between art historians, conservators, scientists, and scholars.
MLCF solicited its first conservation proposals in 1998, funding three pilot projects. In 2001 the Fund was incorporated in the State of Maryland, and in 2002 MLCF received a 501(c)(3) determination by the IRS entitling it to operate as a tax exempt organization. Between 1998 and 2014, MLCF funded the examination and/or treatment of approximately 50 paintings held by 25 U.S. museums. MLCF also funded two major international meetings on Louis’s materials and working methods, including one associated with the 2008 exhibition Morris Louis: NOW organized by the High Museum. Per the articles of incorporation, MLCF expended all funds and ceased operations in 2014.
During its 16 years of operation, MLCF raised awareness among curators and conservators about best practices for preservation and supported innovative research. In the process, it also amassed a singular collection of information pertaining to the condition, analysis, and treatment of individual works. The resulting archive is an essential resource for future stewards of these paintings, providing a history not only of conservation, but also of changing attitudes and understanding of color field painting and practice in the United States. It is intended that this rich resource will be used by scholars to inform future conservation treatment and preservation practices, and that it will expand and evolve with the addition of new scholarship and innovation.
In order to facilitate access and collaboration, MLCF records have been organized, cataloged, and digitized in partnership with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Records include correspondence, treatment reports, and images for all paintings treated under the auspices of MLCF, as well as final reports, raw data, and white papers for associated research projects. These searchable records and associated metadata will be available to conservators and housed at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Decker Library, and available via the Digital Decker interface.
It is anticipated that all records and associated metadata will be absorbed by late 2016; a link will appear here when available. Some materials will be restricted. Please contact the Decker Library directly for permission requirements.
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