MFAH Director Gary Tinterow appoints Per Knutås as Head of Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Knutås begins his appointment at the MFAH in July 2019, bringing nearly three decades of experience to the Museum’s state-of-the-art conservation center

HOUSTON—February 7, 2019—Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today announced the appointment of Per Knutås as Head of Conservation, following the retirement of David Bomford. A related release on Bomford’s departure is available here.

Knutås, currently Chief Conservator at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), will be responsible for establishing conservation priorities in the care of the collections of the MFAH and its two house museums, Bayou Bend and Rienzi, in addition to conservation research and scholarship on the Museum’s collection, comprising 70,000 works of art. 

“I am delighted that Per has agreed to join our staff,” Tinterow said. “His credentials, experience, and accomplishments in the field will provide an excellent platform on which to build the future of the Museum’s conservation department. And perhaps most important, his enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the art of our time will be essential as we move into the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art.”

Knutås will start his position in Houston in July 2019. He will oversee the team of 11 conservators whose initiatives encompass conserving all aspects of the Museum’s encyclopedic collections, working in the newly completed Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation. 

“I am thrilled to embark on this exciting opportunity,” said Knutås. “I’ve been able to lead many successful projects at the Cleveland Museum of Art, notably the establishment of the conservation department for Chinese paintings, a modern and contemporary conservation program, and increased education initiatives for the public. I am grateful for my time in Cleveland and look forward to being a part of the continued growth of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.”

Knutås served as Chief Conservator at the CMA for nearly seven years, overseeing a team of 16 staff members. Most recently, in 2018, he established the June and Simon K.C. Li Center for Chinese Paintings Conservation. This fully endowed training center for Chinese paintings conservation, and the first postgraduate training center for the discipline, makes the CMA one of the top locations in the U.S. for training and mentorship and advances the museum to join the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as a specialist in advancing the field of Chinese painting conservation. He also organized the first conference in 2015 of Asian Materials Conservation, now a reoccurring national conference with invited speakers from China and Japan. In addition to his strides forward in the field of Asian art, Knutås researched and outlined an object-based conservation project of a complex deconstruction and reconstruction of a 6th-century pre-Angkorian stone sculpture depicting Krishna lifting Govardhan Parvat from Phnom Da, Cambodia. 

Prior to his position at the CMA, Knutås served as Chief Conservator for the Cincinnati Art Museum from 2009 to 2012. He has a Paintings Conservation degree from the School of Conservation at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a focus on modern and contemporary paintings. Knutås has also worked at the Moderna Museet and the Swedish National Heritage Board, both in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

About the Department of Conservation 
The MFAH conservation department was established in 1997. Its initiatives encompass conserving all aspects of the Museum’s encyclopedic collections, deployed over five primary areas: paintings, decorative arts, sculpture and textiles, works on paper, and photographs. The MFAH conservation department has also been a leading resource in disaster response, consulting to dozens of institutions after Hurricane Sandy in New York in 2012, as well as Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, both in 2017. 

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States, with an encyclopedic collection of nearly 70,000 works dating from antiquity to the present. The main campus comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000; the Caroline Wiess Law Building, originally designed by William Ward Watkin, with extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe completed in 1958 and 1974; the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi and opened in 1986; the Glassell School of Art, designed by Steven Holl Architects and opened in 2018; and The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, designed by Deborah Nevins & Associates and opened in 2018. Additional spaces include a repertory cinema, two libraries, public archives, and facilities for conservation and storage. Nearby, two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—present American and European decorative arts. The MFAH is also home to the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art. 

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