Southern Breeze Summer 2003

Art Restoration Finds Place in Big Easy
by Marilyn Culpepper

New Orleans is an old city. Indeed, the Old World flavor of the place is one of the strongest attractions drawing thousands of visitors annually and creating new residents daily.

Blake Vonder Haar is one of many people who came as a visitor and made New Orleans home. Now president and conservator-in-charge of The New Orleans Conservation Guild, Inc., she manages to blend the city’s old and new artistic efforts in a unique way.

The extensively traveled Blake, who opened the Guild in 1998, works with a team of a dozen conservators who have rescued antique treasures ranging from cracked and broken glass and decorative arts to frames that have lost their luster to dilapidated period furniture and water-damaged portraits by Early American masters. The Guild’s work goes beyond the walls of its rambling home in an appealing old two-story brick commercial building at 3301 Chartres Street, a mere pulse-beat from the heart of the high-energy city.

Art owners are encouraged to call, write or e-mail for information about restoration needs, curatorial care and collections management. Blake says high professional standards are a hallmark of her team and she has heard far too many “tragic stories” from clients who came to the Guild after being duped by those purporting to be restoration specialists who lacked the training and skills that the profession requires.

“There’s no standard certification for conservators,” she explained. She said that until only a decade or so ago there were no university degree programs in art restoration and that many practitioners were self-taught. That’s the motivation for adding apprentices working under her supervision to the conservation team.

The Guild’s clients include museums, galleries and auction houses as well as private and public collections worldwide. Making your way through rows of plaster statues in various stages of repair and restoration reminds the visitor of an antique shop in Florence or a museum workspace in virtually any European city.

The Guild opens its Vintage and Antique Frame Gallery and Frame Studio—located on the ground floor—Monday through Friday 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and every third Saturday.

The Guild sponsors Bywater Art Market, held the third Saturday of each month, showcasing works by area painters, sculptors, potters and furniture makers. Shoppers will be delighted by the relatively low prices to be found at this quality art sale.

For more information on art restoration, visit or call the business listed below:
New Orleans Conservation Guild, Inc.
3301 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70117-6201
504-944-7900, fax: 504-944-8750

Antique and Vintage Frame Gallery And Custom Frame Studio
Open Monday–Friday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., plus third Saturday of each month 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Bywater Art Market
3301 Chartres at Piety Street, New Orleans
Open third Saturday of each month 9 a.m.–3 p.m
504-944-7900 for information and exhibitor application


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Contact us for more information:
New Orleans Conservation Guild, Inc.
3620 Royal Street
New Orleans, La. 70117

Phone: (504) 944-7900
Fax: (504) 944-8750