Yale University Art Gallery Appoints Irma Passeri as the Susan Morse Hilles Chief Conservator

Half a body shot of Irma Passeri

Irma Passeri, the Susan Morse Hilles Chief Conservator

The Yale University Art Gallery is delighted to announce that after an extensive international search, Irma Passeri has been selected to be the next Susan Morse Hilles Chief Conservator. Passeri was most recently the Interim Chief Conservator and previously Senior Conservator of Paintings at the Gallery. She will assume her new position at the Gallery immediately.

“Irma’s perceptive analyses and remarkable hand skills have earned her a reputation among the world’s foremost practi­tioners in this field,” says Stephanie Wiles, the Gallery’s Henry J. Heinz II Director. “Irma is committed to conveying her vision and skills to younger generations of conservation students and fellows, and to sharing her knowledge of materials and techniques with aspiring art historians and young curators. I would like to thank the search committee and the many colleagues at Yale and beyond for helping guide our work as we made this important appointment.”

Irma has had a long and distinguished career in the field of conservation. She was trained as a conservator at the prestigious Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, where she worked on important conservation projects involving paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and Gentile da Fabriano. In 2000 she was brought to Yale as a guest conservator to treat the large 13th-century dossal by the Magdalen Master from the Jarves Collection and was subsequently invited by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to become the Assistant Project Conservator in the restoration of the Portrait of Alessandro de’ Medici by Pontormo in preparation for the exhibition Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence (2004–5). Following this two-year project in Philadelphia, she was hired by Yale in 2004 as Assistant Conservator.

“I’m thrilled to assume the position of Chief Conservator,” says Passeri. “Having been a dedi­cated member of the team for many years, I hold the Gallery’s Conservation Department and my talented colleagues in the highest regard. I am eager to foster a deeper sense of collaboration and part­nership by strengthening the bonds with the extensive conservation community at Yale and outside the University.”

Beyond her work on the Gallery’s paintings collection, Passeri has contributed widely to the intellectual life of Yale, including co-teaching the course “Technical Examination of Art” in the Department of the History of Art and participating in the Kress Summer Teachers Institute in Technical Art History. She has also worked closely with other colleagues across campus, includ­ing at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and, since 2018, with the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage on the Shared Conservation Lab Steering Committee.