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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Preparing Woo Chong Yung for Display

by Cecile Mear, Conservator of Works on Paper


paper conservation , Woo Chong Yung , C.Y. Woo , Wu Zhongxiong , Asian Art , Asian painting conservation

Preparations are well underway for the upcoming exhibition From Shanghai to Ohio:­­­­ Woo Chong Yung (1898-1989). In fact, we have been developing the show for more than four years. While Hou-mei Sung, Curator of East Asian Art, researched the artist’s life and symbolism in his paintings, I worked with contract conservators to clean and mount the paintings.

When the museum received the large gift of Woo’s brush and ink and color paintings from the artist’s son in 2015, they were attached to rectangular paper mounts only slightly larger than the paintings. To present the works in traditional Chinese hanging scroll format, we sent them to conservators specially trained in the art of scroll mounting. In December a group of paintings came back from Jing Gao, a Chinese painting conservator in Massachusetts. He first removed the paper mounts from each painting before cleaning them with warm water to remove the old adhesive and to reduce foxing stains. He then lined each with paper and attached silk borders to create a simple three-color Chinese mount. Shown here is Two Sparrows and Morning Glory from 1954 before treatment and after stain reduction and mounting.

We are grateful to the Stockman Foundation for making the conservation possible. The paintings will be on display with loans from The Frank Museum of Art at Otterbein University May 10–August 18, 2024.