Jia-sun Tsang, LEED AP

Senior Paintings Conservator


Phone: 301-238-1231
Fax: 301-238-3709
E-mail Address: TsangJ [at] si.edu

Museum Conservation Institute
Smithsonian Institution
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746


M.S. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
M.S. University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum, Art Conservation Program (1985), Wilmington, DE

Research Specialties and Interests

  • Aging behavior of acrylic and alkyd paints, and plastics
  • Modern and contemporary paintings conservation
  • Mixed media binder analysis for treatment
  • Prevention conservation of modern and contemporary paintings in exhibition and storage
  • Sustainability Practice in Conservation

Paintings Conservation - SI exhibitions

Visual Art Collections, National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), 2006-present

  • Conserve all the paintings and mixed media artwork on canvas , plastic, paper, and wood in the VA gallery of NMAAHC in time for the grand opening on September 24, 2016
  • Carry out comprehensive preventive conservation in collaboration with NMAAHC curators and the Office of Collection Management, MCI conservation scientists, framers, vitrine fabricators, art transporters and art handlers
  • Install paintings for the VA gallery in collaboration with NMAAHC Project Management Office and Smithsonian Institution-wide collection specialists, designers, fabricators, collection specialists and security staff
  • Contribute to NMAAHC The Museum System (TMS) with complete treatment reports, survey reports, and analytical reports
  • Produce a maintenance manual for NMAAHCs VA gallery
  • Art and Science of Smithsonian Collections: Protecting and Preserving Paintings for the New National Museum of African American History and Culture Poster, Summer 2016

MCI paintings conservators discussing safe display of painting with NMAI designers and fabricators
Jia-sun Tsang and MCI paintings conservators (Stephanie Barnes and Claire Gerhard) discussing with NMAI designer (Dawn Neuendorffer) and exhibit fabricators (John Chiricella, Craig Huzway, Robert Patterson) on safe display of “Red Hook #5” by Al Loving, 1993, VA Collection NMAAHC; a layered acrylic paint and rag paper on Plexiglas.

"Red Hook #5" by Al Loving, After Treatment and on Display at the Visual Arts Gallery NMAAHC
After Treatment and On Display at VA Gallery, NMAAHC: "Red Hook #5" by Al Loving, 1993

Kay WalkingSticks: An American Artist exhibition, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), November 7, 2015 - September 18, 2016

  • Comprehensive preventive conservation in collaboration with MCI conservation scientists, Art transit company, travel box fabricators, NMAI’s objects conservator, collection manager, registrars, project managers, curators and fabricators.
  • Conserve acrylic paintings
  • Research on acrylic wax emulsion paint media
  • Participate installation and de-installation
  • Participate professional presentation and lecture

Contemporary Argentine Masterworks at the International Gallery, Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution, October 4, 2010 - January 23, 2011

Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), October 16, 2009 - August 8, 2010

Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian, Nation, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), November 1, 2008-August 16, 2009, Washington DC and NYC

Santos: Substance and Soul 2000-2002, travelling exhibition: Washington DC, Puerto Rico and New Mexico; curator and project manager

Professional Activities

LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Accredited Professional) 2008
American Institute of Conservation (AIC)
AIC SIstainability Committee, 2008-2015
International Institute of Conservation (IIC)
Panelist for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections, National Endowment for the Humanities, Spring 2015

Recent Publications

Baker, Whitney, McCauley, Kelly, and Tsang,  Jia-sun. Sustaining the Unsustainable: Mitigation and Monitor for Modern Materials, AIC News, 40(5): September 2015.

O’Hern, Robin, Griswold ,Geneva, Haude, Mary Elizabeth, and Tsang, Jia-sun. An Introduction to How the Manufacturing and Disposal of Adhesives and Paints Affects our Environment, AIC News, 40(3): May 2015.

Tsang, Jia-sun, and Rinck, Maja. Detecting Individual Paints in Mixed-Media Paintings WAAC Newsletter (Western Association of Art Conservators), 37(1): January 2015.

Tsang, Jia-sun, Madruga, Ines, Williams, Donald C., Bosworth, Jennifer and  Hogge, David. 2014. Conservation of an oil painting of the Empress Dowager Tze His of China. Studies in Conservation, 59(1): S157-S160.

Tsang, Jia-sun, Ines Madruga, Don Williams, Rick Pelasara and Robert Patterson, 2013 “Modernized Stretcher for Painting on Canvas: Assessment and Observation, AIC Post Print (in Press)

Tsang, Jia-sun, Schmidt, R. S. and Hollshwander, Chris. 2013. Conservation Meets Sustainability: Recycling Wooden Exhibition Cases. WAAC Newsletter, 35(2): 18-20.

Tsang, Jia-sun and Babo, Sara. 2011. Soot Removal from Acrylic Emulsion Paint Test Panels: A Study of Dry and Non-Contact Cleaning. In: Preprints, ICOM-CC (International Council of Museums - Committee for Conservation) 16th Triennial Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, 19-23 September 2011. ICOM-CC, pp. 1-9.

Turner, Ann, Heald, Susan, Tsang, Jia-sun, Lee Yoonjo, Giaccai, Jennifer. 2010 Preventive Conservation and Identification of Plastics of a Recent Acquisition at the National Museum of the American Indian AIC post Print 2010.

Tsang, Jia-Sun. 2010. Safe Handling of Plastics in a Museum Environment. WAAC Newsletter, 32(2): 16-22.

Tsang, Jia-sun, Madden, Odile, Coughlin, Mary, Maiorana, Anthony, Watson, Judy, Little, Nicole C. and Speakman, Robert Jeff. 2009. Degradation of 'Lumarith' Cellulose Acetate EXAMINATION AND CHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF A SALESMAN'S SAMPLE KIT. Studies in Conservation, 54(2): 90-105.

Tsang, J., Jentsch, E.W., Gieseking, R. and Seeger, A.M. 2009. Preserving Modern Marvels: The Plastics Collection at the National Museum of American History. In: Art d'aujourd'hui patrimoine de demain: Conservation et restauration des oeuvres contemporaines (13es journees d'edutes de la SFIIC, Paris: Institut national du patrimoine, 24-26 juin 2009). Paris: IIC, pp. 1-6.

Tsang, J. 2008. Fossil Fuels Plastic. EcoExchange: newsletter of the SI Green Team, 1(3): 2-3.

Pinchin, Sarah Eleni and Tsang, Jia-sun 2007. Fluor-S Art, Northern Lites, DayGlo: Daylight Fluorescent Pigments, Their Development, Use and Performance. In: Modern Paints Uncovered: Proceedings from the Modern Paints Uncovered Symposium organized by The Getty Conservation Institute and The National Gallery of Art. London: Tate Modern, pp. 296

Dussubieux, Laure, Pinchin, Sarah Eleni, Tsang, Jia-sun and Tumosa, Charles S. 2005. Non-destructive elemental analysis: reliability of a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for museum applications. In: Preprints of the 14th Triennial Meeting ICOM Committee for Conservation, The Hague, 12-16 September 2005, Volume 2. , pp. 766-773.

Tsang, J., Pinchin, S.E., Almond, K. and Tumosa, C.S. 2004. Conservation of Murals in the Alameda Theatre: Reviving Former Cutting-Edge Fluorescent Paint and Black-Light Technology. In: Roy, A. and Smith, P., Modern Art, New Museums: Contributions to the IIC Bilbao Congress, 13-17 September, 2004. , pp. 185-188.

Tsang, J. and Esterlund, T.. You be the Conservator: Looking at Objects - Inside and Out. National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Center for Material and Research Education 2001.

Tsang, Jia-sun. Santos: Substance & Soul Exhibition Catalog.
(http://www.si.edu/mci/english/research/past_projects/nhccnmexhibit.html): 2000.

Tsang, Jia-sun, Hopwood, Walter R. and Lake, Susan. 1996. Analysis of a Moisture-Sensitive Painting. In: Painting Specialty Group Postprints. Washington, DC: American Institute for Conservation, pp. 115-120.

Klein, Elyse L., Tsang, Jia-sun and Baker, Mary T. 1992. Non-Instrumental Techniques for the Characterization and Identification of Artists' Acrylic Paints. Polymer Preprints, 33(2): 650-651.

Tsang, J. and Erhardt, W.D. 1992. Current Research on the Effects of Solvents and Gelled and Aqueous Cleaning Systems on Oil Paint Films. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 31(1): 87-94.

Tsang, Jia-sun and Cunningham, Roland C. 1991. Some Improvements in the Study of Cross-sections. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 30: 1-14.

Erhardt, W. David and Tsang, Jia-sun 1990. The Extractable Components of Oil Paint Films. In: Cleaning, Retouching and Coatings, Preprints of the Contributions to the Brussels Congress. London: IIC, pp. 93-97.

Erhardt, W. David, von Endt, David W. and Tsang, Jia-sun 1990. Condition, Change, and Complexity: The Media of Albert Pinkham Ryder. In: Postprints of the Paintings Specialty Group. Washington, DC: American Institute for Conservation, pp. 28-35.

Lake, Susan and Tsang, Jia-sun 1990. The Conservation of 'Le Cirque' by Daniel Barinoff-Rossine. In: Postprints of the Paintings Specialty Group. Washington, DC: American Institute for Conservation, pp. 41-44.

Tsang, Jia-sun, Ravenal, Nancie, Bernstein, Johanna and Odell, J. Scott 1990. The Conservation of the 100,000th Steinway Piano. In: Cleaning, Retouching and Coatings, Preprints of the Brussels Conference. London: Interantional Institute of Conservation, pp. 52-55.