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Robert B. Jacobs Asian Art Conservation Laboratory
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Conservator Kewei Wang

Conservator Kewei Wang

Robert B. Jacobs Asian Art Conservation Laboratory



Conservation staff: Kewei Wang, Senior Conservator

A conservator of East Asian painting must have the skills and knowledge of a surgeon, a chemist, a painter, and an art historian. Tears in paintings must be mended with precision and confidence; pigments and silk or paper must be analyzed to determine the proper method of treatment; scratches, cracks, and patches must be inpainted to complete a composition—yet reveal that they are repairs rather than masquerade as original brushstrokes; and the whole must be treated and mounted in a style that is appropriate for period and school of the work. Traditionally, learning to become a conservator required ten years of training as an apprentice, and that is still true in Japan, although China has developed a three-year college degree in conservation. There are no training programs in the West for handling East Asian paintings, and professionals with this skill set are extremely rare outside of Asia. UMMA is especially fortunate to have Kewei Wang as our conservator.

Kewei Wang is a native of Beijing, China, where she trained for three years at the Conservation Academy in the renowned National Palace Museum (NPM). She worked in the NPM’s conservation studio for ten years, honing her skills as she repaired Chinese paintings of all types and periods. Seeking a new challenge, Ms. Wang traveled to Germany, where she was employed for four years at the Mannheim Kunsthalle, working primarily on European prints and drawings. In 1993, she came to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in 1996 she joined UMMA as head of the Museum’s Conservation Laboratory. In 2001, she was invited to Japan for special training at one of the leading conservation studios for an intensive workshop in the use of Japanese materials and mountings. In her 14 years at the Museum, Ms. Wang has worked miracles on numerous Chinese and Japanese paintings and countless prints from the Museum’s collection and from private and other institutional collectors.