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Art Preservationists Talk About Pan Am Treasures

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – There was a lot of behind the scenes work involved in making last year's Pan Am celebration a reality. On Wednesday night, the Historical Society will present a lecture by two art preservationists, who helped bring some of the original Pan Am treasures back to life for the centennial.

Since opening in May 2001, the "Spirit of the City: Imagining the Pan American Exposition" has been seen by more than 100,000 visitors. In fact the exhibit is still on display, long after the Pan Am centennial, because of its popularity. But if not for the work of dedicated conservators like James and Patricia Hamm, much of the artwork in the exhibit might not have been around to enjoy at all. Patricia Hamm says, despite age and some neglect, the 100-year-old artwork held up pretty well.

"There were a lot of tears and insect damages, and edge damages, said Hamm. "But in general, the pieces were in excellent shape."

Hamm says that it's not only historical works that deserve conservation. She says anyone who buys artwork, also takes on the role of art preservationist.

"You essentially sign a contract to take care of it," said Hamm. "You don't want the mold to grow on it, you don't want the light to fade it, you don't want it to deteriorate because of poor framing, or even poor hanging conditions. So, you take on the responsibility to actually know how to stabilize, and keep an artwork stabile and, therefore, it doesn't lose value."

Mr. and Mrs. Hamm will offer practical tips for individual collectors to use on their own collections. And they will talk about their work conserving a number of the Historical Society's artworks used in the Pan Am celebration.