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Conservation of the CCAC

The preservation, restoration, and care of artworks are critical components of celebrating South Africa’s incredibly rich and diverse cultural heritage. Unfortunately, this has been lacking in public collections in South Africa, and numerous important works have been lost as a result of environmental wear and tear, data loss, damage from the elements, incorrect display, and inadequate storage.

Since 2018, the CCAC curatorial team has actively worked on the conservation of the Constitutional Court Art Collection, owned by the Constitutional Court Trust, including conservation framing, restoring, cleaning, and correctly displaying and storing the collection housed at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, as funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the Ford Foundation, and project funding by the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. This includes ongoing environmental monitoring, assessing the kind of light, humidity, heat, and moisture present in the exhibition and storage spaces at the Constitutional Court.

A conservation study looked at the collection in its entirety, but also at the condition of each artwork. The results and findings of this report are extremely valuable in guiding which of the artworks can be displayed where and when, how and when they should be stored, and also which works needs specific care and attention. Understanding the environmental factors means that we are able to protect the art and ensure its longevity.

An important part of this programme is the skills transfer happening through the conservation training of the Constitutional Court Trust’s curatorial staff, paving the way for young and upcoming conservation-minded curators and art practitioners while positioning the CCT as a conservation center of excellence.

"I’m continuously impressed with the evolving work of the CCAC team, the growing sophistication and impact, and the impressive conservation reports at both Angela Zehnder's Conservation Week programme at the Centre for Curating the Archive (University of Cape Town) and at the Global Consortium for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage conference in 2021."

Alison Gilchrest, Director of Applied Research and Outreach, Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale (formerly Program Officer, Arts and Cultural Heritage, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)

Conservation Advocacy

In February 2022, the curatorial team started conducting conservation workshops with art conservators, looking at the in-house conservation of artworks in the collection and considering how artists can preserve their work by fostering conversations with conservators. Through our ongoing conservation work on the CCAC, the curatorial team advocates for conservation by sharing information that allows artists to participate in the practice and creating a consciousness around the longevity of the materials used in their artworks.