Wonderful Women Wednesday: Dr. Susan Franz Lake

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Dr. Susan Franz Lake served as a paintings conservator and later as the chief conservator and director of collection management at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden from the mid-1980s until her retirement in 2015. Today, she continues her research at the Museum as conservator emeritus. 

Lake’s research interests include the painting materials of the American abstract expressionist artists, the conservation of modern art materials, including film and slide art, and the conservator’s role in the stewardship of museum collections. Between 2005 and 2015, Lake raised almost $2 million in grants and fellowships for collection stewardship at the Hirshhorn.

In 2010, she published Willem de Kooning: The Artist’s Materials, an-depth study of the paintings of Willem de Kooning. 

Lake earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific in 1970, a master’s degree in art history from the University of California, Davis in 1973, and a Ph.D. in art conservation research from the University of Delaware in 1999.

Lake sits in front of an abstract painting. A group of adults crowds around her.

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