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On Nov 18, 2021, CoSTAR Module 2 was launched. Anupam Sah, Head of Art Conservation, Research and Training, CSMVS Museum, introduced the speakers, Dr. Narayan Khandekar, Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard University, Angela Chang, Assistant Director, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture and Head of Objects Lab, Penley Knipe, Philip and Lynn Straus Senior Conservator of Works of Art on Paper and Head of Paper Lab, Kate Smith, Conservator of Paintings and Head of Paintings Lab. The audience comprised of several participants from Module 1. Meena Sonea, former Executive Director, Mittal Institute, welcomed the audience and opened with remarks on the genesis and the history of the CoSTAR program within the mandate of the Mittal Institute. She noted that the “complex problem of Heritage Conservation necessitated a cross-disciplinary perspective.” In this launch event, a roundtable discussion focused on the “Research Agenda of Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies.” The speakers shared how they conduct research on objects from the Harvard Art Museums– the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
In their conversation, they discussed how short and longstanding research projects related to technical art history at Harvard Art Museums are generated, take shape and benefit from a deeply collaborative approach between Conservators, Scientists and Curators. New questions are asked and answered to humanize art and gain deeper understandings about a work of art and the cultures where it was created. For instance, oftentimes, the treatment of objects leads to questions regarding its making and use. Other questions germinate from sustained conversations with curators. A significant aspect of their research work is the emphasis on documenting results and outreach to various audiences, thereby maintaining the Harvard Art Museums’ mission.