The Minneapolis Institute of Art has gone to the polls, asking blog readers whether they think a figure of sportsman, inserted sometime in the early 1800s into Meindert Hobbema’s Wooded Landscape with a Watermill, should be masked by conservators (to restore the painting to its original state) or left as it is (as a part of the history the painting has collected).
On their blog the MIA have used a nifty little 'wiper' like those used for before and after photos of the Christchurch earthquake and Japanese tsunami, so people can see whether they prefer the painting with or without the figure.
As Tyler Green observes, the MIA have changed their call for action, from 'your vote counts towards our decision' to 'we're interested in what you have to say. Should art institutions be out-sourcing conservation decisions out to the public? No, of course not. But is this an easy way to show people what happens behind the scenes at art galleries and museums? Well, I voted ....
Speaking of conservation, I do admire Te Papa's efforts to share their behind the scenes activities through floortalks, blog posts and their e-newsletter. Te Papa conservators are currently blogging their work on the recently acquired portrait 'Poedua' by John Webber: check out part 1 and part 2.