Head of the Conservation Department
Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (HR)
Mirta Pavić is the Head of the Conservation Department of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (MSU), Croatia. She received her M.A. in Conservation from the University of Ljubljana, Academy of Fine Arts and Design and B.A. from the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb.
Mirta teaches a compulsory course on modern and contemporary art conservation at the University of Split and collaborates with the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, as a visiting lecturer. She has been working at MSU since 2001 and her research interests include modern materials, new media and modern museum practice, conservation ethics, and the educational mission of the field of conservation.
In 2017, Mirta participated in Getting Started: A Shared Responsibility, the Museum of Modern Art’s first workshop on caring for Time-Based Media Artworks in Collections. Her participation was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. MoMA’s Media Conservation Initiative aims to advance new strategies in the field of time-based media art preservation and restoration.
Mirta is the coordinator of the Conservation and Preparation Section of the Croatian Museum Association. She has been involved in several research projects and participated in numerous conferences and workshops on the conservation of contemporary art.
Postponing the Present: the Digital Media in the MSU’s Collection
Digital-born artworks in museum collections often include many components besides the digital recordings themselves. These are mostly variable media installations that consist of various elements, none of which function without the others, and which have meaning (in relating the artist’s intention) only as a whole. Therefore, it is necessary to preserve and maintain each element in an appropriate way. This is true both when they are on display, and when they are in storage. Museum visitors who view video installations on display cannot even begin to guess the issues involved in their setting-up, upkeep, and storage; therefore, caring for such installations opens up the possibility of communicating with visitors, and has a large educational potential.
The number of time-based media (TBM) artworks in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MSU Zagreb) holdings is constantly growing, and as a result, the amount of time and attention that must be paid to their upkeep is also rising. The most recent acquisitions have largely been digital. As technology develops, so too does our knowledge, and contemporary museums are changing the dynamics and demands of their Conservation Departments, because TBM are new media in comparison to traditional ones (such as painting and sculpture). Digital materials are still not stored according to the same standards in all institutions, and co-operation between these institutions is therefore necessary.
Using several artworks from the MSU’s holdings that contain digital files as examples, this presentation will attempt to communicate the experiences gained through practical work in a museum that does not employ a time-based media conservator. The very expression ‘variable media’ presupposes variation. As such, the museum team, collaboration with the artist, and collaboration among various professionals are all vital to the proper processing, preservation, and display of time-based media artworks.