Technical Conservation Services for Outdoor Sculpture, Fountains, Monuments, Mosaics, Architectural Features, Military and Industrial Artifacts
History of Art Conservation in Oberlin, Ohio
History of the Cleveland Area Art Conservation Business
In 1989, art conservation professionals 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. Together, they commenced practice in a new, purpose built 2,600 square foot building designed for paper and painting conservation. The art conservation services company incorporated in January 1990. In the decades following incorporation, this art conservation center has grown phenomenally in scale, facility and services to a diverse and highly regarded awards winning national resource for art conservation services in many disciplines, employing many conservators each with a specialty expertise. The success of this Cleveland area arts conservation services company has been principally due to the exceptional expertise of its highly regarded individual conservators, which we are proud to present in this website, as well as to its responsiveness to its clients, and its affordable fees.
The company now operates from a large campus of three principal buildings with substantial outside work areas and truck (semi-tractor trailer) access and a fourth storage building, all comprising the state-registered Ohio Conservation Center.
Company founding art conservators Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge have been professionals in art conservation in Oberlin, Ohio for over 36 years, since 1982 and 1983 respectively, to the present. At the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory (ICA) in Oberlin, Robert served as ICA’s Conservator of Modern Art and as Acting Head of Paintings Conservation. Gina served as ICA’s Conservator of Paper and Acting Head of Paper Conservation.
Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge established the McKay Lodge art conservation company after leaving their positions of approximately six years each at the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory of the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), then a regional art conservation center once located in the small town of Oberlin adjacent to the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College.
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 self-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 has made possible, it has achieved that goal.
The scope of services, facilities, and diversity of the conservator staff expertise have long ago far surpassed those of the not-for-profit organization they left behind. Average gross revenue purely from art conservation services rendered over the five years of 2012-2016 has nearly reached 2 million dollars ($1,959,410.60), 2017 gross revenue strictly from provided conservation services will exceed 3 million dollars, the average number of conservation projects during that five year period exceeded 350, the number of full-time staff has grown to twelve (12), and the company sees ahead only increased capabilities in providing paper conservation, paintings conservation, objects conservation and sculpture conservation. The largest activity of the company is the conservation of outdoor sculpture. Our outdoor sculpture conservation projects take place all over the United States, largely through contracts with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
The conservation of paintings, objects and art or documents on paper to Cleveland and the larger region remains a core service area, traditional to the company, but the greater growth it sees for itself is in providing specialty art conservation services for outdoor sculpture and for the highly diverse-in-materials Public Art collections nationally. The company is a participant in the Public Arts Network (Americans for the Arts). To that end the company invests in continuing education of its staff in a variety of industries including concrete, metals, and industrial coatings. The company also can afford to invest heavily in new equipment, some used in emerging conservation technologies, to the benefit of its clients.
A significant part of the company’s mission beyond treatment services is self-funded ongoing research by staff, dissemination of information to the public, education of our clients, training through student internship opportunities and pro bono services, donated services where warranted, as well as financial support in the arts. Service revenue profits are fully sufficient for the purchase of new equipment and for all general operating expenses. These are all possible simply through earned revenue from conservation services. No grants are necessary. McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory participates as a good corporate citizen in the arts though annual charitable giving to various not-for-profit arts and historical organizations.
Robert and Gina also founded Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC solely to employ conservators for lease to McKay Lodge, Inc. as its clerical and professional staff. Both companies are owned by the The Robert G. Lodge Trust while the Ohio Conservation Center facilities and land are owned by the Gina McKay Lodge Trust. These trusts have succession plans and financing to assure the survival and continuance of company art conservation activities and charitable giving in the arts beyond the lifetimes of the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory founders.
The company works with a total core staff of twelve (12) staff members, of which eight (8) are specialty conservators, three (3) conservation assistants and one (1) officer manager. Of the twelve staff members, eleven are the sole Members of Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC (OCA), with Robert G. Lodge as the OCA Manager; these Members form the dedicated staff of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. and work under an Employee Services Agreement (the “Agreement”) to provide professional services under the direct control of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, and its president Robert G. Lodge, as its leased “employees,” with McKay Lodge, Inc. providing all tools, all materials, all expenses, all direction and bearing all responsibilities for the OCA Members’ work at McKay Lodge, Inc. as if the OCA Members were the same as “employees” of McKay Lodge, Inc. according to the Agreement, including billings for services and receipts for services provided. Oberlin Conservation Associates, LLC (Robert G. Lodge, Manager) and McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. (Robert G. Lodge, President) are joined under the Agreement and one shall not be construed to be subcontracted to another.
Where Are We?
Our buildings comprise a large campus – a portion of a 50-acre farm 4 miles north of the small college town of Oberlin, Ohio and one hour or less drive from downtown Cleveland. For 30 years (since 1990) this has been an incredible concentration of art conservation for the City of Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, and Ohio region. It has also been a national center for art conservation through various government contracts.