Art Hospital plays a pivotal role in Malaysian art history


By AGENCY
  • Arts
  • Thursday, 02 May 2024

The Art Hospital plays an important in Malaysian art history, restoring hundreds of classic oil paintings and acrylics. Photo: Bernama

The Art Hospital, nestled within the Conservation Repository Centre of the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, stands as a bastion of preservation, akin to the Conservation Management Division of Muzium Negara (the National Museum).

Established in 2019 by the National Visual Arts Development Board (LPSVN), it represents a pioneering initiative in South-East Asia, melding the dual role of caretaker of collections and guardian of creative legacies while nurturing the national art ecosystem.

The Art Hospital offers a spectrum of services, including advisory consultations, restoration, storage, and public engagement initiatives. Photo: Bernama The Art Hospital offers a spectrum of services, including advisory consultations, restoration, storage, and public engagement initiatives. Photo: Bernama

"The Art Hospital embodies multifaceted roles beyond conservation. It serves as a gallery, an art library, and a museum, acting as a catalyst for tourism and cultural enrichment," says Musrizal Mat Isa, senior curator at LPSVN Collection and Conservation Section.

The National Art Gallery holds a hidden treasure trove of local visual art, boasting over 5,000 collections, some dating back over a century.

At the Art Hospital, staff diligently restore artworks from the National Art Gallery's collection and also welcome restoration projects from private collections. Photo: BernamaAt the Art Hospital, staff diligently restore artworks from the National Art Gallery's collection and also welcome restoration projects from private collections. Photo: Bernama

Beyond traditional paintings, these treasures span diverse forms such as sketches, printmaking, photography, and sculptures, each holding immense historical and cultural significance, deserving careful preservation.

LPSVN's decades-long (more than 60 years) commitment to amassing the nation's artistic treasures found fruition in the establishment of the Art Hospital, marked by significant enhancements in facilities and resources.

'We plan to hold demonstrations and workshops regularly to allow visitors to witness the conservation process firsthand,' says Musrizal. Photo: Bernama 'We plan to hold demonstrations and workshops regularly to allow visitors to witness the conservation process firsthand,' says Musrizal. Photo: Bernama

"The Art Hospital provides advisory services, restoration, art collection storage, and public consultations, all in alignment with its mission and vision to preserve the nation's artistic heritage treasures and educate the public on art conservation," he adds.

Central to the Art Hospital's mandate is its contemporary approach to storage, with dedicated repositories tailored to various artistic mediums.

An Art Hospital staff member meticulously attends to a damaged painting, ensuring adherence to all restoration processes. Photo: Bernama An Art Hospital staff member meticulously attends to a damaged painting, ensuring adherence to all restoration processes. Photo: Bernama

From housing delicate paper-based artworks to displaying sculptures and paintings, each repository is meticulously maintained under optimal conditions, ensuring the longevity of the collections.

"The paper repository houses close to 3,000 paper-based artworks, including prints, paintings, Chinese ink paintings, watercolors, photos, and archival materials. These are stored in a cool room adhering to conservation standards, with temperature carefully regulated to maintain optimal conditions," says Musrizal.

The institution's commitment to public engagement is exemplified through initiatives like the collection study room, which welcomes researchers and enthusiasts alike. Photo: BernamaThe institution's commitment to public engagement is exemplified through initiatives like the collection study room, which welcomes researchers and enthusiasts alike. Photo: Bernama

Furthermore, the Art Hospital boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including conservation studios equipped with modern technologies such as the Polarised Light Microscope and X-ray Fluorescence. These tools facilitate intricate processes like cleaning, tear repair, and image restoration, conducted with precision in the painting conservation laboratory.

The institution's commitment to public engagement is exemplified through initiatives like the collection study room, which welcomes researchers and enthusiasts alike. Equipped with interactive touch screens, it fosters understanding and appreciation of art through access to archival materials.

Looking ahead, the Art Hospital aims to expand its outreach through demonstrations, workshops, and guided tours, inviting visitors to witness firsthand the meticulous craft of conservation.

"In doing so, it not only safeguards the nation's artistic heritage but also cultivates a deeper connection between art and society," says Musrizal. – Bernama

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