The Art Conservation Project

The Art Conservation Project preserves cultural treasures from around the world and highlights the crucial need for their protection.

Works of art can provide a lasting reflection of people and their cultures, but they are subject to deterioration over time. The Bank of America Art Conservation Project is a unique program that provides grants to nonprofit museums throughout the world to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of degeneration, including works that have been designated as national treasures.

Since 2010, Bank of America has provided grants to museums and cultural institutions in 25 countries for 57 projects.  The program has supported the conservation of a diverse range of works, including a collection of Ndebele beaded aprons at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg; Picasso’s Woman Ironing at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the reassembly and preservation of the illuminated manuscripts of the Anvar-I Suhayli at the CSMVS Museum, Mumbai; the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; photographs from the personal collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City; and 30 modern sculptures at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil.

View the conservation of Solitude, one of five works by Marc Chagall conserved by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. 

View the conservation of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture Diana, in progress at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

View the conservation of The Cosmati Pavement at Westminster Abbey, London.

See documentary on highlights of the conservation of works by Bronzino and Pontormo.

View the conservation of three historically significant portraits from the Tudor period, currently underway at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

View the conservation of historical portraits by Gilbert Stuart at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

View the conservation of The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife at the National Gallery of Ireland.

Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

Abbey Theatre, Dublin
John Butler Yeats (Irish, 1839–1922)

Four portraits

Portrait of W.G. Fay, Leading Actor, 1904
Portrait of Frank Fay, Leading Actor, 1904
Portrait of Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh, Leading Actress, 1904
Portrait of Annie Horniman, Benefactor of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

The Abbey Theatre is Ireland’s national theatre. It was founded by William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost figures in twentieth century literature, and Lady Augusta Gregory, a prominent dramatist.  Since it first opened its doors in 1904, the theatre has played a vital and often controversial role in the literary, social and cultural life of Ireland. In 1905, the Abbey Theatre first toured internationally and continues to be an ambassador for Irish arts and culture worldwide.

The Abbey Theatre portrait collection, representing each decade of theatre history, hangs throughout the Abbey Theatre building.  The portraits comprise a living and expanding collection that charts some of the most significant theatre artists of the twentieth century. The collection began with the commissioning by patron Annie Horniman of four portraits in oil by John Butler Yeats for the opening of the Abbey Theatre.

These portraits have recently been conserved through the support of the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. There is much excitement about having the newly conserved portraits back home in the Abbey Theatre, as they are significant to the history of Ireland’s national theatre and to the country’s cultural heritage. They are also central to the Abbey Theatre’s art collection and depict subjects who were instrumental in the theatre’s inception.

The paintings have been on display to the public at the Abbey Theatre since 1904 but occasionally have been loaned to other museums. Conservation began in 2013, and installation will coincide with the 110th anniversary of the Abbey Theatre in 2014.

The four portraits depict Frank Fay, an acclaimed Dublin-born dramatic actor who was a member of his younger brother W.G. Fay’s National Dramatic Society which merged with the Irish Literary Theatre to become the Irish National Theatre Society, the originating body of the Abbey Theatre; Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh, leading lady on the Abbey’s opening night; and Annie Horniman, the Abbey’s benefactor, who was known for supporting the early careers of William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw.

To read more about recipients, click here

If you have questions, click here.

Portrait of Frank Fay,
Leading Actor
, 1904