Kaela Nurmi ’15

Kaela Nurmi gives an overview of her path since graduation:

“After graduating from Scripps with a BA in art conservation, I was awarded the Turk Internship in Conservation where I worked with paintings conservator Aneta Zebala in Santa Monica, CA. After the internship, I moved home to Seattle, WA where I split my time as a conservation intern with the Museum of History and Industry, Museum of Pop Culture, and private practice horological conservator Brittany Cox. Throughout the year I had the joy of working on such objects as the intricate and tiny dollhouse furniture, a Borg Regeneration Chamber set piece from Star Trek, and a banjo playing automaton.

In October 2016, I moved to Washington, DC to start an internship with the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Over the 9–month internship I completed the treatment of Doris Salcedo’s concrete and wood sculpture, Untitled, 1995, Janet Cardiff’s site-specific audio walk, “Words Drawn in Water,” 2005, and a plexiglass pumpkin from Yayoi Kusama’s “All the Eternal Love I have for Pumpkins” infinity room.  After my internship, I joined Page Conservation, a private paintings conservation studio, as their technician. In my two years with Page, I had the opportunity to treat a wide range of works, including traditional portraiture, European panel paintings, and modern/contemporary American art.

In Fall 2019 I began my graduate studies in the SUNY Buffalo State Garman Art Conservation Department. In my second year, I chose to specialize in objects conservation, with a strong interest in modern/contemporary art. My master’s project focused on the conservation treatment and material analysis of Louise Nevelson’s large, painted wood assemblage Dawn’s Image, Night, 1969. It brings me such joy that my undergraduate thesis at Scripps focused on Eva Hesse’s works and now my master’s thesis focuses on another mid-century female artist! The Scripps student in me will always be drawn to the works of female artists.

In September 2021, I began my 12-month graduate internship in the objects conservation department at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Since starting at MoMA I have had the pleasure of continuing to work on works by female artists and designers, including Clara Porset’s wood and rattan Butaque Chair, c.1957, Anne Truitt’s painted wood sculpture Catawba, 1962, and a neon work titled Five Variations on the Ampersand, 1966, by Chryssa. I have had the opportunity to conduct artist interviews, participate in conservation outreach opportunities, and collaborate with many different departments during my time at MoMA.

Upon earning my Master’s in Art and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation in September 2022, I will begin a two-year conservation fellowship at Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art in Potomac, MD.”