History of the Business

In 1989, Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge established the art conservation firm McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, Inc. on their 50 acre farm property located 4 miles from downtown Oberlin and commenced practice in a new, purpose built 2,600 square foot building designed for paper and painting conservation. Over the past 27 years, this conservation practice has grown in scale, facility and services to be a large and highly regarded national resource for conservation services in many disciplines. The success of this conservation services company has been due to the exceptional expertise of its conservators, as well as to its responsiveness to its clients, and its reasonable fees.

Company founding art conservators Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge have been professionals in art conservation in Oberlin, Ohio for over 30 years, since 1982 and 1983 respectively.

The town of Oberlin, Ohio has a very long association with art conservation, since the 1956 “Experiment in Co-Operative Conservation” (presented by Richard Buck) which lead to the establishment of the first regional conservation center – The Intermuseum Conservation Association, operating the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory (ICA). Since the relocation of ICA from Oberlin years ago, McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory has continued the Oberlin tradition, but in a much larger facility and scale of conservation services Oberlin has ever seen.

Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge established the practice after leaving their positions of six years each at the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory of the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), then a regional art conservation center once located adjacent to the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. There, they had become, respectively, the acting heads of the paintings and of the paper conservation departments.

The goal of their new company was to duplicate the art conservation services, research and educational programs of a regional conservation center but entirely through funding from earned services revenue – eliminating the dependency on grants and the expenses of the staffing and time to solicit such outside funding. Through hard work, success through respect earned for its high quality and efficient services, and through the high volume of services that its reputation made possible, it has achieved that goal.

A significant part of the company’s mission beyond treatment services is self-funded ongoing research by staff, free dissemination of information to the public, education of our clients, training through student internship opportunities and pro bono services where warranted.

Robert and Gina also founded Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC to employ conservators for lease to McKay Lodge, Inc. Both companies are privately owned by the McKay Lodge family. No persons outside of the family are employed in the home business. The business of the Oberlin area corporation is conservation services through contracting with independent firms and leasing of conservators, such as from Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC.

The company currently works with a total core staff of eleven (11) staff members, of which eight (8) are specialty conservators, two (2) conservation assistants and one (1) officer manager. Of the eleven staff members, ten are the employees of Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC (OCA). In addition, the company is a general contractor, accomplishing many of its larger projects through coordinating subcontracted trades and professionals beyond those of OCA.


During the previous 27 years of providing conservation services, the company has retained its initial focus on paper conservation, paintings conservation for regional museum and institutional fine arts collections.  Yet over time, there has come a growing involvement in contract conservation for federal, state and local government collections. With additions of professional staff and substantial expansion of the facilities and equipment, it grew to be especially active and known in the conservation of architectural features, wall paintings and murals, mosaics, sculpture, outdoor sculpture, public art, monuments, metal artifacts and objects, and modern and historic fountains. Most of these latter services take place on location at various institutions and sites all over the United States.

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