Conservator Tom Podnar has achieved something that arguably not all do in their chosen profession, a true mastery of his field.
That is why we are proud to celebrate his twenty-five years with McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in January 2018. Tom joined the lab in 1993, and it was immediately evident that he is a rare individual. Tom is marked by an unprecedented skill set, enduring work ethic, and unmatched willingness to share information with colleagues and other professionals. As our Senior Sculpture Conservator, Tom Podnar is widely known for his knowledge of the conservation of sculpture and historic monuments across the United States. In addition, his specialized expertise in the conservation and restoration of historic and modern fountains and the restoration of zinc sculpture is highly regarded.
When Tom first joined McKay Lodge Conservation, he already had an extensive understanding of materials, mechanical repairs, and art fabrication methods. Tom graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. He then worked in art foundries casting and reproducing artwork and as an independent fountain contractor in the Greater Cleveland Area.
During his beginnings at the McKay Lodge Conservation Lab in Oberlin, Ohio, Tom learned a great deal about the preservation of art and historic objects from program-trained conservators Robert Lodge and Gina McKay Lodge. Tom Podnar eventually became a peer-reviewed Professional Associate of the American Institute for Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and member of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE International).
Through the years Tom has championed projects both large and small as well as materials both traditional and unconventional. He has traveled to nearly every state, even crossing oceans to treat artwork in the United States territories and Hawaii. He has completed conservation assessments and treatments for museums and cultural institutions, private clients, city and state governments, and for the federal government as part of our General Service Administration (GSA) contracts and the National Park Service (NPS).
As a result, he had the opportunity to interface with others far beyond the typical museum setting, introducing the concept of conservation and providing training to an array of allied professionals nationwide. This unique experience has made Tom into the valuable member of the McKay Lodge Conservation team and field of Art Conservation that he is today.
When it comes to the conservation of art, “there’s nothing Tom can’t do or doesn’t know”, as stated by his pupil and our new Conservator of Objects, Christina L. Simms. These sentiments are certainly echoed by our senior staff members. It is, however, his character that makes Tom a real asset. His warm disposition has not only fostered excellent conservator-client relationships, but it has made him a treasured employee, mentor, and friend.
We are proud to celebrate twenty-five remarkable years with our colleague, Thomas Podnar.