Interview with Isabella Villafranca Soissons Director of the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Open Care –

    The interview of

    She is Isabella Villafranca Soissons Director of the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Open Care.

    Five questions to get a preview of the great art professionals, the daily challenges to face, the choices that have determined their path in the system and in the art market, the changes under the banner of digital and the advice for those who want to undertake the same career in collaboration with

    With her, works of art have a long life, because her desire has always been to cure and preserve the works.

    Isabella Villafranca Soissons, Director of the Open Care Conservation and Restoration Laboratory in Milan, is the professional to whom artists, collectors and major museum institutions turn to safeguard the integrity of works of art.

    She is not afraid to measure herself against sometimes absurd and unthinkable materials used, but rather stimulated by artistic experimentation, she applies her skills acquired over years and years of experience between New York, London and Milan.

    In this interview he presents the complexity of a profession with multiple notions, where digital is playing an increasingly important role…

    Isabella Villafranca Soissons holds the position of Director of the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Open Care, a company she helped found and of which she is a member of the Board of Directors.

    From Turin, she graduated from the Polytechnic in Architectural Restoration and graduated Restorer in Florence. Passionate about art in all its forms, with a long experience as a conservator in New York and London.

    After a period of training and experience in ancient art, in Anglo-Saxon countries he began to get passionate and deepen the material, technical and conservative aspects of contemporary art.

    She has worked on projects and studies in the field of conservation, handling, exhibition, maintenance and restoration of works of art in Italy and abroad; she has published several publications on the subject and has participated, as a speaker, in numerous conferences and workshops.

    He currently curates private as well as institutional collections of museums, banks, foundations, archives.

    He is permanently responsible for the maintenance of the collection of the Museo del Novecento in Milan and participated in the setting up of the Mudec Museum in Milan.

    He teaches in various masters, academies and refresher courses for universities and educational institutions.

    She was also Vice President of the Scientific Committee for the courses “La Plastica nell’Arte e per l’Arte” of the Plart Foundation in Naples.

    1. How did your path in the art world started?

    My journey in this wonderful world began as a child. My family has passed this passion on to me and I have always wanted to “cure and preserve” works of any kind. My path of study has been tortuous because there were no degree courses related to conservation, but only restoration institutes or regional courses. After a degree in architectural restoration – which gave me notions of lighting engineering, chemistry of materials, technical physics, statics, museology – I also graduated in restoration.

    I had the good fortune to land immediately in prestigious institutions abroad and, back in Italy, to enter in 2004 a nascent reality, Open Care, currently the most complete company of integrated services for art in Italy.

    2. How would you describe your profession today?

    There are various ways and, above all, various levels of my profession.

    I have the privilege of running a conservation department consisting of 5 laboratories where restorers authorized by the Ministry “keep alive” both ancient and contemporary works of art made with different materials.

    The work is always carried out in synergy with other departments such as Art Consulting and Logistics. We study the works with experts in the various sectors, foundations and archives. We design the transport and packaging of contemporary artworks so fragile that they shake.

    In addition, I always try to devote time to study, refresher courses and to publish articles in scientific journals.

    3. How has your profession changed over time?

    A lot has changed, especially with regard to the methodological aspect and the knowledge of the intervention materials. The diagnostic phase has become more and more important, not only as regards the knowledge of the work, but also to address the methodology of intervention. In addition, the products used and the application methodologies have changed, which, however, require excellent expertise in the chemical field.

    4. What impact is the digital having on your sector?

    Digital has improved my profession mainly on two aspects.

    The first one concerns laboratory operations: photographs, reporting, graphics, diagnostics (X-rays are now digital!).

    The second concerns the possibility to show remotely the state of conservation of the works of art, through different methodologies such as digital microscopes.

    This allows the Superintendencies to check the progress of the restoration.

    On the other hand, collectors, without having to travel to see the work they want to buy directly, can show the conservation status in real time even during a preview.

    5. What would you suggest to someone who wants to pursue your career?

    The advice I can give are: undertake a high profile training course, try to do at least one internship abroad, keep up to date on public competitions. Moreover, I advise to always maintain an extremely ethical approach towards works of art and not only institutional but also private clients.

    This interview was conducted in collaboration with, the first community dedicated to training, updating and orientation towards the professions of art.


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