Iowa woman restores Univ. portraits of Iowa presidents from the 1800s

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) — The University’s Presidential Portrait Gallery has been on display since the 1990s, but was only recently completed with all but one of the school’s past presidents.

Sara Boesen’s passion for art conservation led her to help the University of Iowa with its history project.

Several presidential portraits had been damaged over time and needed a steady and skilled hand to restore them.

“I provided estimates as well as a detailed report of each portrait outline condition and what I would do to fix those condition issues,” Boesen told TV-9.

She restored two: the portrait of Josiah Little Pickard, who was president from 1878 to 1887. And the portrait of Oliver M. Spencer who was president from 1862 to 1867 whose portrait needed a little more attention to detail.

“There were large tears mainly through the facial area which also resulted in significant loss of facial features,” Boesen said.

John Culshaw, Jack B. King University librarian since 2013, says these restoration efforts are a priority for the school.

“The gallery was set up not only to share portraits of our past presidents, but also to add some context about the era of each presidential administration,” Culshaw said.

And now that the collection is complete, it’s on display for everyone on the fifth floor of the library.

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