The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum was awarded a $79,148 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to restore 25 of 129 life figure drawings by Marshall Fredericks.
IMLS announced awarded grants to 133 museums throughout the country. Museums were selected from 472 applications and were picked through the Museums for America program, which is very competitive. Having been awarded this grant, the Marshall M. Fredericks Museum can now preserve more of Fredericks’ lesser known work.
The Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, deemed Fredericks’ sketches of the human figure that were drawn in the 1950’s the highest priority because of their fragile condition and curator importance.
Museum archivist Melissa Ford explained that the drawings are on low-quality paper, often with tape lining the edges, so the sketches have become discolored and torn.
“When he was creating them, he wasn’t thinking about long-term conservation,” Ford said. “He was just using what he had on hand.”
Fredericks was a significant 20th Century artist known primarily for his sculptures, but Marilyn Wheaton, the director of the museum, affirmed the importance of these preliminary sketches that Fredericks would reference when working.
“These are his first sketches that later became sculptures,” Wheaton said. “They are quite significant because it allows us to see his process.”
The restoration process will include mending repairs, improving the color and treating and washing the sketches with a solution to help preserve and prevent future damage.
Once this process is complete, the museum will host an exhibit to show the works along with other oil and watercolor paintings by Fredericks. This 2D artwork will also be digitized and made available online. The exhibit will detail the conservation process through a lecture given by an individual who worked directly on the restoration of Fredericks’ drawings.
Ford hopes that the availability of this didactic information about a lesser known restorative process will help to directly involve and educate both students and the surrounding community.
“I don’t think many people understand the conservation process,” Ford said. “Hopefully this will help open their eyes. I know there are science and art students alike who aspire to work in conservation of art.”
The exhibit will initially start at the museum in 2021 and then move to other locations. Wheaton is proud that the museum continually strives to make Fredericks’ work available to the public.
“The museum acted responsibly,” Wheaton said. “It was important to get this grant and preserve the art.”
Likewise, Ford hopes that by viewing 2D art by a 3D artist, the public “can see a different side” of Fredericks and appreciate his talent.