Call for Participants - Conserving Canvas: Cotton Duck (July 10-21, 2023)

Posted on Mon, 01/09/2023 - 17:15


Conserving Canvas: Cotton Duck July 10 – 21, 2023 – Full time, in-person

Hosted by The Harvard Art Museums, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art


The Harvard Art Museums, in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, are pleased to announce an open call for applications to Conserving Canvas: Cotton Duck, a ten-day workshop, made possible with support from the Getty Foundation through its Conserving Canvas initiative. This collaborative training opportunity will offer a comprehensive overview of the material characteristics of cotton duck and approaches to its conservation. Over the course of the workshop, participants will receive hands-on training in approaches to storing, handling, washing/cleaning, and mending paintings on cotton duck. A group of invited experts will lead workshop sessions, some as in-person instructors and others remotely with live or pre-recorded supplementary presentations.

Eight early-to-mid career conservators will be selected to participate in the workshop through an open application process (see Application section below for details). Travel and lodging will be provided and each participant will receive a stipend of 1,200 USD intended to remove barriers that participation in a two-week, full-time program may pose for emerging and mid-career conservators of varying circumstances. The aim is to assemble a diverse, international cohort who will ultimately collaborate with the instructors to build a decision-making model for the conservation of paintings on cotton duck.

The workshop will begin in New York City, at MoMA (Session 1, July 10) then move to the Whitney (Session 2, July 11-13) and conclude in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the Harvard Art Museums (Sessions 3 and 4, July 14-21).


Session 1 (July 10): Collecting Cotton Duck – Museum of Modern Art. Led by the museum’s conservation and curatorial staff, the group will review the unique qualities of cotton duck that make it desirable to artists and relate those qualities to the specific risks of treatment approaches to be covered in the subsequent sessions at the Whitney and Harvard. Preventive care of works on cotton duck, including the care, storage, and display of unstretched and shaped canvases will allow participants an expanded view of the possibilities and vulnerabilities of cotton duck.

Session 2 (July 11, 12, 13): Canvas Dynamics and Washing –Whitney Museum of American Art. Expert instructors Christina Young (University of Glasgow) and Jay Krueger (National Gallery of Art, Washington) will introduce participants to the forces that are generated when cotton duck is saturated with water as well as the possibilities and risks of wet treatment. Participants will experiment with mock-ups using Young’s biaxial tension tester and will carry out and assess a full-scale washing protocol under Krueger’s guidance.

Following the end of Session 2 participants will travel to Cambridge, MA. Sessions 3 and 4 will be held in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums.

Session 3 (July 14, 17, 18): Alternatives to Washing – Harvard Art Museums. Expert instructor Samantha Skelton will cover alternative approaches to cleaning and stain reduction, including the use of rigid gels, solvents masking, and suction.

Session 4 (July 19, 20, 21): Mending Cotton Duck – Harvard Art Museums. Expert instructors Robert Proctor and Emily Mulvihill will introduce a range of approaches to the repair of structurally compromised cotton duck, including tear mending, reweaving, lining, inserts, and reintegration through hands-on experimentation with a range of materials, tools, and techniques.


The program is open to a maximum of eight early to mid-career conservators. Eligible applicants will have a master's degree in art conservation, or equivalent training, as well as at least 2-5 years of post-graduate experience in the conservation of paintings. In order to maintain equal access to the widest range of conservators, an institutional affiliation is not required, though those applicants with demonstrated specialization in the conservation of modern and contemporary paintings and letters of recommendations from professionals with an institutional affiliation will be given preference.


Applicants should submit a letter of interest and cv, compiled into one Word document or PDF (preferred), to before 5:00PM EST on February 6, 2023. Please include the words “Cotton Duck” and your name in the email subject line. Each application will be reviewed by project staff and successful applicants will be notified by March 31, 2023.
One letter of recommendation is required for your application to be considered. Letters of recommendation should also be sent to by February 6, 2023.


As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve, we will be guided by Harvard University’s policies and processes for on campus and international participation.

This workshop is made possible with support from the Getty Foundation through its Conserving Canvas initiative

Further information on the Conserving Canvas initiative can be found at:…