Recruiting the best
MFAH lands a pair of superstar conservators: Married art experts to be keyfigures in expansion
As it readies to embark on an ambitious gallery expansion project, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston announced the appointment of two new conservators to oversee and preserve the institution's ever-growing collection.
David Bomford and Zahira (Soni) Véliz — who will become director of conservation and a senior paintings conservator, respectively — will maintain holdings for MFAH and its two house museums, Bayou Bend and Rienzi, in addition to initiating research and scholarship. They come as something of a team — the two are married.
“I am thrilled that David Bomford and Soni Véliz will join the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,” MFAH director Gary Tinterow said in a statement.
Throughout each of their careers, the husband-and-wife conservators have worked on a list of masterpieces that reads like an art history textbook.
“I have known and admired both for many years. David has spent most of his career working with what is widely considered the best comprehensive collection of old-master paintings in the world . . . As a publishing art historian as well as a conservator, Soni will bring new perspectives to our practice at the museum."
Tinterow told CultureMap in a recent email that he will look to Bomford and Véliz for help in conceiving a new set of conservation labs for the museum. The director also hopes the conservators will infuse MFAH shows with information on the more technical aspects of art, as Bomford had done in his "Art in the Making" series in London.
Throughout their careers, the husband-and-wife conservators have worked on a list of masterpieces that reads like an art history textbook.
While many will know him as the most recent acting director for the Getty Center, Bomford has been a leading figure in conservation for more than four decades. During his esteemed tenure at the National Gallery in London, Bomford helped to restore one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings, Peter Paul Rubens’ Samson and Delilah, Manet’sExecution of Maximilian and a number of Rembrandt works, including the painter's Ecce Homo.
As an independent curator and restorer, Véliz has worked on major preservation efforts for the U.K. National Trust as well as on El Greco's celebrated El Espolio (The Disrobing of Christ) for Spain's Cathedral of Toledo. Véliz spent much of the 1980s as a conservator for the Prado, the renowned Spanish national museum which is set to loan the MFAH more than 100 masterworks for the just-announced Portrait of Spain exhibition in December.
David Bomford and Soni Véliz will relocate from London to Houston in October.