ICA – Art Conservation (ICA) was the nation’s first non-profit regional art conservation center. The organization was founded in 1952 by the directors of six major Midwestern museums to provide professional, high quality, and cost effective art conservation services. The ICA was the model used by the National Endowment for the Arts, when it began dispersing start-up funding to create a network of similar centers across the United States in 1971.
For the first fifty years of its existence, the organization was located on the campus of Oberlin College, adjacent to the Allen Memorial Art Museum, in Oberlin, Ohio. In 1970, ICA became a provider of a Master’s Degree in art conservation through the college. Although the program was discontinued in 1978, the ICA’s training, research, and degree program provided a significant contribution to the formation of a recognized group of professional conservators. ICA graduates and trainees have gone on to expand or develop conservation laboratories at organizations including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Balboa Art Conservation Center. Most continue to be leaders in today’s conservation field. Research conducted by ICA staff members resulted in publications that have become classics in the profession.
In 2003, staff and operations relocated to a newly renovated facility in Cleveland’s West Side. The historic structure is fitted with conservation laboratories, a climate-controlled art storage facility, and a large space fronting Detroit Avenue that will soon be renovated for use as a public meeting area and educational classroom. With this new urban location, and a corresponding expansion of staff and membership, the ICA has been able to redefine its role and seek out the general public and cultural institutions that are typically underserved.
Today, the ICA offers a range of services to its membership, as well as to non-member collecting organizations, governmental agencies, corporations, and the general public. These services include laboratory and on-site conservation, climate-controlled storage, custom crate building and display work, surveys and inspections, studio-quality photo documentation, educational programming, disaster assistance, grant collaboration, and publications for both a professional and general audience.
The ICA remains dedicated to “art and cultural heritage preservation, conservation, and education” for the benefit of all the citizens of Ohio and the lower Midwest.