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Historian Details Art Conservation Project in News Article

Posted: December 4, 2018

Madison County, New York, historian Matthew Urtz conveyed his satisfaction working with Buffalo State’s Garman Art Conservation Department in a recent article he wrote for the Oneida Daily Dispatch.

Urtz praised the work of the department in general, and specifically, second-year student Nicole Flam (pictured) who conserved a portrait of Benjamin Franklin Chapman, a judge from Clockville, New York, and later Oneida. This painting, along with three others Urtz brought to Buffalo State, once hung in the Madison County Courthouse.

During a renovation of the courthouse in the 1960s, the paintings were put into storage and forgotten about until early in the twenty-first century. Because many were significantly damaged, Urtz sought conservation help and was pleased to find quality work at Buffalo State at a much lower price than private conservation businesses.

He wrote, “The partnership has been beneficial for both parties as it allows Madison County to save significant amounts (in some cases north of 90 percent) while making sure these pieces are maintained for the public, and projects like these allow students to develop their skills working on historic pieces.”

So far, the department has restored three paintings and is working on the fourth—a portrait of Sylvester Beecher who served in several judicial roles in the early 1800s in Madison County, was elected as the representative to the New York State Legislature, and served as a captain during the War of 1812.

“When I arrived, I started the restoration process and was able to locate an additional 10 to 15 paintings that hung in the courthouse prior to the 1960s restoration,” Urtz explained. “A number of the paintings are still in poor condition, and we will continue to work with the Art Conservation Department to get them restored and eventually on display. We will begin to display the restored paintings when the courthouse reopens in 2019.”

Pictured: Buffalo State art conservation student Nicole Flam with the restored painting of Benjamin Franklin Chapman. Courtesy of Matthew Urtz.  

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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