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Jonathan L. Thornton

Jonathan L. Thornton

Retired Faculty

Campus Address:


M.A., C.A.S., State University College at Oneonta (Cooperstown Graduate Program, Art Conservation)

B.A., Antioch University

Jonathan Thornton has taught objects conservation at the Art Conservation Department since 1980. Following an earlier career as an artist/silversmith, he studied conservation in this department when it was still located in Cooperstown, NY, and received his M. A. and Certificate of Advanced Studies from the State University College of Oneonta. He completed internships in the metalwork, stained glass and woodwork/gilding departments of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the archaeological conservation laboratories of the Museum of London. He has a strong interest in historic craft technologies, and continues to explore this area by researching period treatises, and by using and reproducing historic craft tools. His research in conservation has focused on flat glass, ivory and similar materials, and gilded and polychrome surfaces on woodwork and picture frames. He was a Rome Prize recipient in 1999, and researched the materials and techniques of molding and casting while a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.

Professor Thornton has lectured widely and presented workshops in both this country and abroad, most notably, intensive workshops on the conservation of picture frames given at Buffalo State, the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Oberlin, Ohio, and in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia and in New Zealand. He also taught a tool-making workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. His publications include: "Training Ceramics and Glass Conservators at Buffalo State: An American Perspective Illustrated by Treatment Case Histories"; "A Brief History and Review of the Early Practice and Materials of Gap-Filling in the West"; "All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Other Metal Surfaces That Appear to Be Gilded"; "Organic Colorants in Wood Polychromy"; "The Use of Non-traditional Gilding Methods and Materials in Conservation"; and "The History, Technology and Conservation of Architectural Papier Mache." He is a substantial contributor to a book on furniture conservation, The Conservation of Furniture, published by Butterworths. Professor Thornton was an editor for Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts for ten years. He also served on the Board of Heritage Preservation for many years.

Jonathan is also an expert craftsman, interested in traditional handmade tools and historic technologies. He has crafted dozens of hand tools using historic methods and materials for use in the classroom. For a sampling of Jonathan's extraordinary work, please visit his historic tools photo gallery.

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Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Rockwell Hall 230 •  Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-5025 •  Fax: (716) 878-5039