Creativity Lab

Activity Guides

Project Blue Boy

Explore the intersections of art, primary sources, and science. The resources in this Activity Guide packet provide teachers and students with an understanding of the technical examination and conservation treatment of Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Christina O’Connell, senior paintings conservator, is using a medical microscope used for eye surgery, the Haag-Streit Hi-R NEO 900 surgical microscope, in addition to other conservation tools such as optivisors, silicone-tipped tools, cotton swabs, brushes,
and a palette.

During this two-year project, there are four main steps:

  1. surface cleaning and removal of non-original varnish (finished)
  2. structural work on the canvas (off view)
  3. the in-painting process (in the gallery)
  4. preparing The Blue Boy for re-installation

The following resources highlight aspects of conservation through activities such as: examining color through chromatography, exploring tint, tone, and shade, studying the impact of sunlight with sun paper, and sculpture assessment.

While the activities are designed for elementary students, they can be adapted for middle and high school students.