OBITUARY

Arthur Cook Beale

April 12, 1940May 7, 2022
Obituary of Arthur Cook Beale
Arthur Cook Beale, 82, nationally and internationally known conservator of sculpture and Chair Emeritus of Conservation and Collections Management at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston died peacefully at home surrounded by those who loved him on May 7, 2022. Arthur received his BA at Brandeis and did graduate studies in painting and sculpture at Boston University. He worked his way through university with his carpentry skills by building studios for his teachers and mentors like Reed Kay, Lloyd Lillie, and Jack Kramer. In 1966, he joined the Fogg Art Museum as a conservation apprentice. He went on to work there for twenty years becoming Director of the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies in 1981. Arthur was a Senior Lecturer in the Fine Arts Department and helped develop post-graduate training programs there as well as at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1986, he arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston to be Director of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research. Over the years he worked to consolidate the MFA’s disparate conservation departments. In 1999, he became Chair of Conservation and Collections Management with over seventy conservators and collections care specialists. His career afforded him the opportunity to travel widely. He worked on archaeological digs in Cypress, studied ancient Roman quarries in Italy, and important bronzes in the museum in Athens. Standing on the scaffolding outside the torch of the Statue of Liberty and on the back of the Sphinx in Cairo were just some of the adventures he loved to recount to friends over intimate dinners. Arthur was founding Chairman of the Board and Council of the National Institute for Conservation (eventually called Heritage Preservation and later taken over by AIC). He was a Fellow of both the International and American Institutes for Conservation. In 1989 he received a Presidential appointment to the National Museum Services Board for a six year term. In 1995, Arthur was the first recipient of the University Products award for distinguished achievement in the field of conservation. He served on the visiting committee of the Getty Conservation Institute, visiting projects in Luxor (Nefertari’s tomb) and Rome (on the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel ceiling). He lectured widely and published on a variety of subjects including the preservation of outdoor sculpture, the technical and authentication examination of objects (particularly Degas’ “Little Dancer”) , bronze casting techniques and environmental control methods. A man of many talents, Arthur was a skilled painter and sculptor in his youth, but found his creative outlet later in life in filmmaking. He spent many joyful hours recording the changing seasons and the menagerie of animals in the woods behind his house that he designated his “wildlife sanctuary”. He also crafted beautiful travel documentaries of his sailing adventures in Greece, Baja and Alaska and took thousands of photos trekking the back country of rural China and the islands of New Zealand and the Galapagos. With his wife Teri, he collected Native American art and worked on the 19th century barn he slowly turned into a home. A fifty year resident of Scituate MA, he was a founding member of the town’s Historic Commission. He is survived by his wife and traveling companion, Teri Hensick, and his son Damon Beale, of Scituate. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the New England Wildlife Center (newildlife.org). A celebration of Arthur’s life will be held at a later date.

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