KMSKA Talk Image

Conversations on Conservation with KMSKA

As a recipient of the 2023 TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund, The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) will be restoring a key work from their collection: Two Girls as Saint Agnes and Dorothea (c. 1650) by Flemish Baroque painter Michaelina Wautier (1604–1689), who occupies an exceptional place in art history and within this Belgian collection. While it was a difficult undertaking for women to become artists, for those that succeeded it was conventional to concentrate on a specific genre deemed appropriate, such as flower and food still lifes or portraits. Wautier broke with conventions as an unmarried woman, painting—and excelling—across genres, even those usually reserved for her male counterparts, such as genre paintings and large-scale history paintings.

Sunday, March 12

KMSKA Talk Image



In this talk, KMSKA will discuss and debate the upcoming restoration of their painting by Wautier as they prepare their approach for this almost 400-year-old artwork. While past treatments have ensured that the painting has survived until today, the selection of materials used may not always have been conducive to the longevity of the artwork or may have irrevocably altered the appearance of the image. The challenge for the modern conservator is, can these past treatments be reversed? Can we accept the condition and appearance of the painting as it is seen today? Do past treatments impact the choices the modern-day conservator makes in terms of material selection or application?

TEFAF Talks are interactive panel discussions exploring today’s most fascinating topics in the worlds of art, antiques, and design. Paired with leading content partners, these talks showcase the knowledge of leading experts in the broader TEFAF community. This talk is presented in partnership with the International Council of Museums - Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) and powered by Aon.


Kate Seymour, Chair ICOM-CC (Moderator)

Carmen Willems, General Director, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)

Born in 1968
Master in Economy (University of Leuven)
PR and communication Interbuild Antwerp (1991-1995)
General Director Gallo-Roman Museum Tongeren (1995-2017)
Mayor Tongeren (2004-2009)
Director Visit Limburg (2017-2019)
Managing Director Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (2019-2021)
General Director Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (2021-now)

Gwen Borms, Head of the Conservation Studio, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)

Gwen Borms has been working as a painting conservator at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp since 2000. She collaborated on various loan concepts, and exhibitions and carried out several full-scale conservation treatments. In 2018, she was appointed Head of the Conservation Studio. Today, she is responsible for the conservation of sculptures, paper, frames, and paintings in the collection.

Natalia Gustavson, Freelance Paintings Conservator, Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam

Natalia Gustavson is a freelance paintings conservator and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She holds both a Master's and Ph.D. in conservation (University of Applied Arts in Vienna). Her research topics include the history of conservation (focus on the 19th century) and the technological investigation of paintings (emphasis on textile supports). She lives with her family near Maastricht.

Cover image Michaelina Wautier, Two Girls as Saint Agnes and Saint Dorothy, 599. Photo by Rik Klein Gotink. Courtesy Collection KMSKA - Flemish Community (CC0).