The study of provenance is a traditional part of art historical research, as an object’s chain of ownership can inform a scholarly understanding of the work of art itself: its function, condition, and its place in the history of taste and collecting.
The MFA’s procedures and policies relating to acquisitions and provenance
Conservation Strategy A condition survey in 2004 showed that close to half of the ceramics in the Museum's Late Archaic and Early Classical Greek gallery were physically unstable. Many of the ceramics, assembled from fragments, were heavily restored before they came to the Museum in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After more than a century, they were in dire need of conservation. All of the vessels required cleaning and many were plagued with failed adhesives, soluble salts, and discolored restoration paints.
The Asian Conservation Studio is one of only five such studios in the United States and the oldest outside of Asia. The studio was established in 1907 within the department of Asiatic Art during Okakura Kakuzo’s curatorship. Headed by a Japanese mounter named Motokichi Tamura, its initial mission was to preserve Japanese paintings.
The Furniture and Frame Conservation Laboratory, founded in 1971 and significantly expanded in 2001, is responsible for the care and preservation of furniture, frames, musical instruments and period rooms in the Museum’s collections.
The Objects Conservation Laboratory cares for three-dimensional artworks from across the Museum’s curatorial areas, nearly one-third of the MFA collections.
The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Paintings Conservation Studio was established in 1902 in the form of a single Keeper of Paintings, who was responsible for cleaning and repairing artworks. Today, the lab oversees the conservation of all Western paintings in the Museum's collections, including medieval panel paintings, Renaissance frescos and easel paintings, and contemporary works.