Conway Public Library Receives $4,000 Grant For Conservation Treatment on Art Collection

The original drawing of the Conway Public Library by building architect Thomas Silloway is on of the three pieces of art works set to be conserved using the grant money. ~ Photo courtesy of Conway Public Library.

Conway, NH – November 29, 2018 – The Conway Public Library is pleased to announce it has received a $4,000 grant from the Robert and Dorothy Goldberg Foundation to perform conservation treatment on three items in the Library’s art collection. The project was jump started through the generous support of the Friends of the Conway Public Library, whose backing covered the expenses associated with producing conservation treatment reports for the Library art collection. These treatment reports were essential to the success of the grant proposal.  

The three works of art to be conserved are “Making Soap” by Benjamin T. Newman, an untitled work by the artist Anne Goldthwaite, and the original drawing from which the Conway Public Library was built.

Making Soap (pictured above) by Fryeburg Academy art teacher Benjamin T. Newman is a community treasure of the Mount Washington Valley. Donated to the library in the year of its opening, 1901, this fascinating and unusual painting has been a part of the library patron experience since the very beginning. The painting was originally created for the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition as a part of the Maine exhibit. At 48×68 inches the painting is quite imposing but suffers from significant surface grime.

The untitled work by the noted late 19th and early 20th century artist Anne Goldthwaite (pictured above) was discovered last winter in the attic of the Conway Public Library. It is with a certain amount of embarrassment that the Library admits that an important work of art languished in its attic for 40 or so years. As Goldthwaite was born in Alabama and lived much of her life in New York City, the Library was uncertain of the provenance. After some research it was determined that the item was donated to the Library by Keith and Nella Henney, the founders of the Henney History Room at CPL. The Nella Henney journal, now in book form under the title “Summers on Foss,” confirms the Henney’s knew Anne Goldthwaite so there is no other explanation as to how the painting made it to CPL.

Goldthwaite was a prodigious artist and her works are in numerous museums across the Nation including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and the Cleveland Museum of Art to name just a few. Conservator Cobbs key recommendation is for the painting to be “dry cleaned” and placed in an archival quality frame for display.

The original drawing of the Conway Public Library building by architect Thomas Silloway is another community treasure.  The Library and the library building are beloved and no other image documents the library in such detail from its early days as does this drawing. Conservator Cobbs key recommendation is to remove the acidic board from the drawing and deacidify.

Once the items have been conserved the library plans to have the Goldthwaite and Silloway items placed in new archival quality frames as described in the estimate from Vintage Frames in North Conway. The Library’s conservator has advised that “Making Soap” does not need a new frame. Once the objects have been conserved and reframed the Library plans to put these works of art on display.

Library Director David Smolen said, “We thank the Goldberg Foundation and the Friends of the Conway Public Library for their generous support of this project. We look forward to showing off the items once they have been conserved.”

Founded in 1900, the mission of the Conway Public Library is to create an environment that promotes and facilitates lifelong learning and community engagement. To meet that end the library collects and provides access to materials, in print and digital form, that meet the intellectual and cultural needs of the community. In addition to this, the library serves as a meeting place for programs where ideas are exchanged and relationships are built.