NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — When you step into an art museum, the last thing you probably think about is the amount of maintenance that’s been done to each piece of artwork. But we are giving you inside access to the Chrysler Museum to show exactly what it takes to keep artwork in tip-top shape.

Mark Lewis, an art conservator with the Chrysler Museum, said that his goal is to keep every piece of artwork in the museum looking like the original. Of course, when centuries-old paintings come into the museum, it takes some human intervention to keep them in great condition.

Every piece of art that leaves or enters the museum goes through a detailed inspection process. The conservators will examine the quality and assess the damage using microscopes, ultraviolet lights, infrared cameras, and pigment analysis. By doing this, they are able to determine exactly what’s been done to a painting, approximately when it’s been restored, and an age of the original painting. They can also see the damage and wear and tear of a painting and, after consulting with a curator, repair the damage.

Several times a month, the conservationists will go out in the gallery and do restorations in front of the public.

Lewis explained that it’s important for him to hear what the public thinks about these restorations and he factors the public’s opinion into the restorations that he does. He admits that some people don’t like the fact that he cleans and repairs the damaged paintings, however, he also noted that if the painting was not restored, most people would focus on the damage instead of the art itself.

“We really want you to come in and appreciate the art, not what’s been done to it,” according to Lewis.

If you want to see an art restoration for yourself, just visit the Chrysler Museum's Calendar of Events.

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