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Arts & Culture

Cleveland Museum of Art to Open Chinese Paintings Conservation Center

Mark Arehart
Cleveland Museum of Art Chief Conservator Per Knutas and Curator of Chinese Art Clarissa von Spee look at a painted Chinese scroll at the museum.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is getting serious about the conservation of Chinese paintings. The museum is using $3 million in grants to establish a center to maintain and restore some of its most delicate works of art.

There are just a handful of museums in the country with Chinese painting conservation programs.

Chief Conservator Per Knutas said many of the specially trained conservators at those museums are getting close to retirement. 

"So we are training the next generation to take over these positions in these museums," he said. 

The Center for Chinese Paintings Conservation will take on specialized training fellowships. It will also establish an endowment for its Chinese paintings conservator.

Clarissa von Spee, chair of Asian art and curator of Chinese art, said the fellowships will help museums across the country that don’t have the CMA's resources.

"Cleveland would now become a center to help out with this backlog, to work on these Chinese paintings that needed conservation," she said.

The center is expected to open in 2020. 

Half of the center’s $3 million in funding comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The other half comes from donors June and Simon Li.