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In many museums, the best stuff isn’t out on display it is tucked away in the basement or in the hands of conservators. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California has a world-class furniture collection, and if you’re coming to the Woodworking in America conference in Pasadena, California this October 12-14, come a day early and join us for a special behind the scenes look at the Getty furniture collection and the conservation shop. Tony Fortner is a long-time friend of Popular Woodworking Magazine and an instructor at the Cerritos College Woodworking program. He’s the guy we can thank for arranging this special tour. Here is what we’ll do.

Thursday morning a bus will leave the Pasadena Convention Center to make the trip to the museum. When we arrive, the 45 attendees will split into two groups. Each of these two smaller groups will take a special tour (at different times) of both the public displays and the private work areas of the conservators. Charissa Bremer-David, the Curator of Sculpture & Decorative Arts will  lead the group on a tour of the French Royal Furniture, Boulle, and Open Treasured Spaces exhibits. Arlen Heginbotham, the Getty’s Conservator of Decorative Arts who specializes in furniture, will take visitors on a private tour of the studio where he works, and a look at works being conserved. Sue Ann Chui, an Associate Conservator in Paintings Conservation specializes in paintings on wood and will show her studio and how she works.

Many of the areas attendees will see are normally off limits to the public so this is a unique opportunity to get a close look at some of the world’s most intricate and valuable pieces of furniture as well as talk to the expert craftspeople who work on them. The cost of the tour is $20 to cover our costs for transportation to and from the museum. If you’re already registered for the conference, click on the link in your confirmation e-mail that says “modify registration”.

If you haven’t registered for the conference, what are you waiting for? Time is running out and this year’s Woodworking in America conference is your chance to spend three days with some of the best woodworkers in the world, join this behind the scenes tour of the Getty and be right around the corner from the Greene & Greene collection at the Huntington Library and the Gamble house, the best place to see original pieces of Greene & Greene furniture in an original environment. It promises to be the weekend of a lifetime.

Visit the WIA conference web site and sign up today.

– Robert W. Lang

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