A conservation assessment of the Athenaeum's gilded frames, which hold its collection of 19th-century European and American paintings, including masterworks by Albert Bierstadt, Worthington Whittredge, Chauncey Bradley Ives, and Adolphe William Bouguereau. The frames, most of which are original to their paintings, are displayed in the same manner and locations as they were in the 1870s, giving visitors a more complete view of the era's art and architecture.
The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, a designated National Historic Landmark, was built in the Second Empire style in 1871. An art gallery was added in 1873 to house philanthropist, Horace Fairbank's, extensive and significant collection of 19th century European and American paintings, including an exquisite group of Hudson River School landscapes. The focus of the survey will be to examine, gather information and prioritize the need for conservation treatment of the collection's gilded frames (most, if not all, are original to the paintings). A detailed survey of this type has never before been conducted at the Athenaeum and was recommended in January, 2009, by Thomas J. Branchick. Branchick is the Director and Conservator of Paintings at Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Massachusetts, and has been overseeing the Athenaeum's art collection for over 20 years. Branchick's report states that over 30 of the collection's frames require immediate conservation treatment.