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Funding Conservation’s Greatest Need

Celebrating the gift by Julie Kurtock
May 16, 2024
two women and man smiling

Julie Kurtock (center) with Dean Yoder, senior conservator of paintings and head of paintings conservation (left), and Julianna Ly, assistant conservator of paintings (right)

“If it weren’t for conservation, there wouldn’t be art on the walls,” said Julie Kurtock, CMA member and volunteer. Julie has been closely involved with the museum for more than 20 years. As a longtime volunteer, she has helped share the CMA’s renowned collection with visitors from around the world. Upon learning more about the CMA’s conservation area—including the complexities and expenses involved in protecting and caring for works of art—Julie has chosen to support the museum’s most pressing conservation initiatives. 

Conservation includes every aspect of maintaining, preserving, restoring, and protecting the CMA’s encyclopedic collection, which is held in trust for the benefit of all the people forever. The conservation team comprises highly trained, experienced professionals who are among the world’s best in their areas of expertise. 

Julie became interested in conservation after observing the often astounding before and after images showcasing the differences between damaged or deteriorating works of art and the resulting restorations. Julie noted that “unless you see the before and after, you maybe wouldn’t understand the importance of conservation.”

The restoration of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew (1606–7) is a prime example. One of the most important paintings in the museum’s collection, the masterpiece underwent an extensive, years-long restoration by Dean Yoder, the museum’s senior conservator of paintings and head of paintings conservation. Yoder’s treatment was presented in June 2014 and gave CMA visitors a closer look at the vital conservation work that typically goes unseen by the public. 

In addition to caring for more than 65,000 works in the permanent collection, CMA conservators also play an important role in the lending process, enabling the museum to bring groundbreaking special exhibitions to Cleveland, as well as to build partnerships with other leading institutions around the world. 

CMA conservators must also travel to build relationships and procure necessary materials for their work. For example, the Asian painting conservators must source authentic and highly specific materials, such as silks and papers from Japan and China, that can only be obtained through face-to-face, personal contact with direct suppliers. In this way, they are ambassadors for the museum, forming meaningful global connections that advance the CMA and its collection for the benefit of all. The Julie Kurtock Endowment Fund enhances this essential conservation work at the CMA.