Every year over twenty NYU students – including graduate students from the Institute of Fine Arts and the Conservation Center in New York, the Museum Studies Program and NYU Florence undergraduate students– are deeply involved in the care, documentation and development of the Acton Collection at Villa La Pietra. The house museum becomes a “gymnasium”, in the words of Harold Acton, where students can practice their skills and shape their souls: engaging in a variety of tasks from assisting with the re-housing of fragile early 20th century shoes and the digitization of family photographs, to actual conservation work on paintings and sculpture. Students help draft preventive conservation surveys and assist with their implementation, provide guided tours and assist with the installation of for special thematic exhibitions; finally they share their work on Instagram and Instagram stories in order to foster community during this time of social distancing. The students bring fresh ideas and raise provocative questions. Their voice is extremely valuable to us and, we hope, the voice of the Acton family stays with them as they continue down their personal and professional paths.
Below is a short reflection by the current collection volunteer, Sophia Winkler, who helped me organize a textile conservation studio visit. She is particularly interested in tapestries and is a weaver herself.

On September 29 in-person students at the NYU Florence Global Campus had the amazing opportunity to see Villa La Pietra’s current textile conservation projects! We are so lucky to have a conservation studio on site allowing students to be more hands on with the process. 

Students got the chance to deep dive into 3 beautiful textile objects, including a 16th c. tapestry from the Uffizi Galleries. The conservators, Claudia Beyer and Costanza Perrone Da Zara, showed students around the lab and explained their conservation methodologies and techniques.  We spoke on the differences between integrative restoration and conservative  restoration while seeing the effects of each technique hands on!

One student, Anne Victoire who is pictured here, spoke on the experience: “It was fascinating to be able to see what kind of tiring work Conservators do.”

(For more information check out the La Villa Pietra website under collection conservation)


by Sophia Winkler, Fall 2020 NYU Florence, Villa La Pietra Collections Volunteer