Conservation In The Movies

As the holidays approach you are probably wondering what to do with the family after the big meal is consumed and the football games are over. How about some entertainment featuring a conservator?

H.P. Lovecraft: Two Left Arms

H.P. Lovecraft “Two Left Arms” (2013)

“Carter, an art conservator, arrives in Italy to restore a fresco in an old church. He discovers that the strange locals are hiding something and a mystery relating to a nearby lake that legend says was created by a meteor.”  —IMBD

The cover leaves me wondering, are the locals octopuses who only have left arms? We will have to watch and see.


Behold the MonkeyBehold the Monkey (2016 TV Movie)

A “well-intentioned parishoner” tries their hand at fresco conservation. A reviewer on IMBD writes, “A story told in a very simple, cartoon-like way, without too many words or caracters. [sic]”

How bad could it be? Let us know if you watch.



Caged Poster

CSI: Caged

A “manuscript restorer” is dead and one of the prime suspects is…wait for it…THE CURATOR! The IMBD description says she was killed “during a crazy escalation of meanness.”

Most curators I know are pretty nice people and not prone to murderous deeds. Also, there’s something about a dog.



Holly Hunter in Home for the Holidays (1995)Home for the Holidays

Conservation Online has the best synopsis: “Holly Hunter plays a paintings conservator who goes home for Thanksgiving after being fired by her museum because they lost their NEA funding.” That all hits a little too close, you know?


Sigourney Weaver and Peter MacNicol in Ghostbusters II (1989)Ghostbusters II

Not the best Ghostbusters movie in my opinion, but watching Sigourney Weaver “make ends meet” as a conservator working on a possessed painting feels familiar.  We’ve all worked on some pretty creepy things, right?

And finally, no movie round up would be complete without National Treasure.

Next to enzymatic treatment (aka Spit), lemon juice on a swab is the bee’s knees. And ONLY someone trained to handle antique documents should do such a thing, especially while wearing white cotton gloves.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and entertaining New Year! We’ll see you in 2020.

Duke University Libraries Preservation