Layers of Paint, Layers of History

Conservator Christine Thompson will talk about the importance and techniques of paint analysis in historic structures.

Christine Thomson is pictured here taking samples from the accounting room at The House of the Seven Gables.

Photo courtesy of The Gables


Old walls talk, and conservator Christine Thomson is going to interpret for you. In a Saturday morning presentation, Thomson will delve into the fascinating world of historic walls. Amid the layers of paint are layers of untold history. This event is free and open to the public as part of 2018 ArtWeek.

Thomson is one of the region’s foremost furniture and decorative surfaces conservators. She has an expertise in the study and treatment of painted, lacquered, gilded and varnished surfaces. In her lecture on Saturday, April 28, at 10 a.m., she will talk about the importance and techniques of paint analysis in historic structures and share findings from research she did at The Gables in 2016. Her talk is in conjunction with the opening of The Gables’ new exhibition, “These Walls Do Talk.”

This year The House of the Seven Gables celebrates its 350th anniversary. In acknowledgment of this auspicious milestone, Thomson will show how scientific material analysis techniques used by art conservators today can be applied to historic interiors to gain a more accurate period interpretation. She takes small samples from around a room to determine how the room evolved over time. The final report helps to guide restoration by documenting color schemes and advising on color choices.

Thomson provides services in architectural paint analysis for museums, historic sites and private homeowners. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, she apprenticed in woodworking and wood finishing in California before moving to Boston in 1988. She was Senior Furniture Conservator at the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) Conservation Center and Senior Conservator at the firm of Robert Mussey Associates in Boston. She is now self-employed in Salem, Massachusetts, and serves both museums and private collectors.

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