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The conservation of fine art is a highly specialized endeavor, requiring many different approaches when dealing with a wide range of objects. The goal of treatment is to return the work of art as close to its original appearance as possible, while maintaining the physical integrity of the piece. Procedures carried out and materials used are very carefully chosen so that the conservation work will remain easily reversible to facilitate future treatment. Materials are chosen for their chemical and physical stability, utilizing time-tested methods.

The expert conservation team at Old Sarum Gallery has over forty years experience in this field, and is considered one of the most accomplished of this craft in the region. Our approach is to avoid shortcuts or "trends" and to rely only on proven, recognized techniques developed over centuries. Whether your painting is traditional or contemporary, very old or very new, simply in need of a cleaning or seriously damaged, we can restore it to very near its original condition and appearance.

We will thoroughly examine your painting, explain alternative treatments to you, and provide you with estimates of the time and costs involved. Whether you have one painting or a large collection, we can provide the conservation services you need. Our clientele includes countless individuals and families who have entrusted us with the care of treasured artworks. In addition, we have provided conservation services to a wide variety of:Restoration photo half-and-half enhanced resized

  • Galleries
  • Colleges and universities
  • Historical societies
  • Corporate collections
  • Museums
  • Libraries
  • Religious institutions
  • Individual collectors

Paintings may suffer from one or more of the following problems:

  • Surface soil
  • Yellowed or darkened varnish
  • Loose, chipped or flaking paint
  • Tears or holes
  • Fire, smoke or water damage
  • Mold and mildew
  • Vandalism

Lining a painting

Restoration photo Minard half-cleanedIn cases of damage or deterioration to an oil-on-canvas, it is appropriate to "line" a painting before proceeding to any subsequent phase of restoration. We carefully remove the canvas from its wooden stretchers and bond it to a stable support or reinforcing canvas, utilizing a micro-crystalline wax specially formulated for this purpose. It is then re-stretched, allowing the other treatments such as cleaning and in-painting to be carried out.

The wax lining not only protects the original canvas from cleaning solvents, but also prevents exposure to the humidity or other harmful acids or corrosive substances in the air. It also provides a solid surface for repair and consolidation of torn or punctured paintings, and rescues flaking paint by re-adhering it to the surface.

Restoring flat plane

Often paintings on canvas may become loose, bulged, dented or rippled, conditions which may lead to lifting paint or other kinds of deterioration. We can safely restore the canvas to its original flat plane.

Surface cleaning

Paintings may become soiled over time from cooking residues, fireplace or tobacco smoke, dust or other air-borne agents. Our cleaning techniques remove these surface soils, restoring the work to its original color and appearance.

Removal of yellowed or darkened varnish

Most paintings have been given a topcoat of organic varnish by the artist. Over time this varnish may become yellowed or darkened, distorting the original colors of the painting and hiding subtle details. We soften and remove the old varnish and replace it with a non-yellowing varnish that will maintain the true colors of the painting for generations to come.Sisters Portrait

Consolidation of loose and flaking paint

Paint may crack and begin to flake off due to shrinkage of the canvas, heat, dampness or other factors. We use state-of-the-art conservation techniques to consolidate the flaking paint, that is, to secure it against further loss. We then fill any paint voids and "in-paint" the filled areas to match the surrounding color and design.

Repairing holes and tears

We repair punctures, holes and tears in paintings using techniques that may include patches or synthetic re-weaves, repairing the tear and providing a base for filling and in-painting to restore its original appearance. The result is virtually undetectable.



These are just a few of the procedures that we routinely perform. We are always pleased to assess the condition of your painting. We will examine it carefully, recommend treatments for its restoration, and give you an estimate of the cost and time required. Whether your painting has substantial monetary value or simply the sentimental value of a treasured possession has no bearing on the cost of our work. Our charges are based solely on the time and materials required to perform the conservation treatments your painting requires, and we will make every effort to tailor our work to fit your budget.

We treat every painting with great respect both for the artist's vision and for your appreciation of it. Our conservation philosophy is to perform the least treatment required to stabilize the condition of the painting and restore it as closely as possible to its original appearance. To the greatest extent possible we employ reversible treatments so that, should superior conservation techniques be developed at some point in the future, they may be implemented. We abide by the ethical guidelines of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Meegan during cleaning - detail

 Detail of Scottish Landscape with small section cleaned



Meegan - Finished

 Completed Scottish Landscape in Repaired, Gold-Leafed, and Finished Frame



Our conservator at Old Sarum Gallery, has performed conservation services for a number of distinguished clients over the years, including:

President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson

N.C. Governor and Mrs. Luther Hodges

Governor and Mrs. Terry Sanford

The National Endowment for the Arts

The William Rand Kenan Trust

Liggett Group, Inc.

The State of North Carolina

The Board of Governors, of the University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Duke University

Duke University Medical Library

North Carolina State University

The John Motley Morehead Foundation

World Golf Hall of Fame Museum

The George Watts Hill Alumni Center at UNC

The Kenan Institute

The Carolina Club

The Annie Watts Hill Foundation - Morehead Hill Mansion

The Carolina Inn

The Liberty Hall Restoration

The Mordecai House – City of Raleigh

Historic Salisbury Foundation

The 21 Club – New York

Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Kriendler

Mr. and Mrs. George Watts Hill

University of N.C. President and Mrs. William Friday

Mr. and Mrs. Kay Kaiser

Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Kenan

Mr. Thomas S. Kenan

Mr. Joseph M. and Kathleen Price Bryan

Miss Beverly Sills