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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Street Cleaning

by Serena Urry, Chief Conservator


CAMConservation , paintings conservation , hopper

We recently cleaned Sunlight on Prospect Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts by Edward Hopper (1882–1967). 

We removed a thin layer of varnish dating from before the painting was acquired by the museum in 1959. The mottled yellow coating flattened the blue sky, blurred the crisp architectural lines of the houses, and obscured faint streaks of pale pink, orange, and blue in the sidewalk and street.

After cleaning, we applied the new varnish, a synthetic type that won’t discolor over time. 

The sunny streetscape appears to be more in focus after conservation, and the painting is already back on the wall in Gallery 211—so stop by and see if you agree.