UNMC is not just an academic health science center. It strives to be a vital resource to all Nebraskans. So it makes perfect sense that the radiation science technology education department in the School of Allied Health Professions recently lent its expertise in order to X-ray … a 19th century masterpiece from the Joslyn Art Museum?
The Nebraska State Historical Society’s Gerald Ford Conservation Center and the Joslyn are partnering with UNMC on radiographic imaging to assist with a full technical study, then the conservation of the painting. The process and results will be on display at the museum as part of a special exhibit.
This intersection of medical science and art also has inspired tonight’s Science Café featuring presenters Kenneth Bé and Jim Temme.
On the day of the imaging, Bé, head of paintings conservation at the Ford Center, and the Joslyn’s Kay Johnson carried the painting into the med center’s radiography department and set it down gently. Tim Stack, radiology technologist for The Nebraska Medical Center, Justin Williams, a senior radiography student, and Temme, the Charles R. O’Malley Endowed Chair in Radiation Science Technology Education, started setting up.
“The Pearl of Venice,” dated 1899, has long been a favorite of Joslyn visitors. Its painter, Thomas Moran, is best known for his paintings and watercolors of the American West. But this, one of his finest cityscape paintings, shows he also spent time, “as we all should,” Bé said, “in Venice.”
Yes. We all should spend time in Venice! (Moran himself wrote of the city’s “dreamy beauty.”)
And this is the way Bé speaks – elegantly. Maybe it’s being around all of these masterpieces day in and day out.
And it is only with this kind of imaging that one can truly know a painting, Bé said. “The history of this canvas,” he said. “We are looking not only for condition problems but also some clues to the painting’s studio technique, things we could only find in a radiograph. Things I couldn’t see with my naked eye.”
Some large museums have their own in-house radiography set-ups, Bé said, but this partnership works just fine.
“These radiographic images look great,” Temme said, as the team imaged another section of the painting.
Temme beamed proudly. “I think I’d like to have a print of these radiographs in my office,” he said.
The exhibit will run June 7-Sept. 7 at the Joslyn Art Museum, and will include the painting undergoing its cleaning and conservation treatment in the galleries, with Bé working as visitors watch.
The Science Café is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Slowdown. Please click the link for details.