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Caroline Keck Papers

Identifier: MS-30

Scope and Contents Note

A well-respected art conservator, Caroline Keck served as Georgia O'Keeffe's personal art conservator for almost forty years. The collection relates to the professional relationship between Georgia O'Keeffe and Caroline Keck, and more specifically to the conservation treatments of O'Keeffe's paintings owned by O'Keeffe, and in some cases, other institutions or private individuals.

The correspondence dates from 1946 to 1981 and is primarily between Keck and O'Keeffe. O'Keeffe letters are originals and often handwritten, while Keck letters are typically typed carbon copies. Invoices for work completed on paintings are enclosed. Other correspondents include but are not limited to Charles Allen (The Downtown Gallery), Doris Bry (O'Keeffe's agent), and Edward Steichen (The Museum of Modern Art). Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Printed material and notes are limited and in original order. The photographic material includes black and white negatives, color transparencies, and black and white contact prints of negatives. Photographs and film are of O'Keeffe's paintings, including overall views of paintings and some details. There is one photograph and film for a work by Arthur Dove. Photographer is unknown. Negatives and photographs are separated and arranged by the photograph number given by the Keck's or their photographer.


  • Creation: 1946-1981, undated

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public for research purposes. Some materials may be restricted.

Copy and Reproduction Restrictions

Photocopies of materials may be made for research purposes only.

Biographical and Historical Note

Caroline Martin Kohn Keck (October 6, 1908 - December 17, 2007) was a pioneer of art conservation. She and her husband, Sheldon Waugh Keck (May 30, 1910 - June 12, 1993), worked individually and together to advance the field of art conservation through their work with prominent museums and individuals, as well as efforts to develop training and education programs for conservation.

Caroline Martin Kohn was born in New York City. She studied at Vassar College and Radcliffe College, where she received a master's degree in art history in 1932. While taking a course on art materials at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, she met Sheldon Keck and they were married the following year. They had two sons, Lawrence and Albert.

In 1934, Sheldon Keck established an art conservation laboratory at the Brooklyn Museum, where he and Caroline Keck practiced painting conservation. They worked for private individuals such as Edwin Dickinson and Nelson A. Rockefeller, and as consultants for the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Phillips Collection in Washington and other institutions.

The Keck's were committed to education and helped to establish academic programs for conservation training and research, trained and taught interns and students, and lectured and published on topics in conservation.

They were professionally involved in the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), where they both became honorary members and had special awards developed to honor their contributions to the field.

Caroline Keck served as personal conservator for Georgia O'Keeffe for almost forty years.


0.83 Linear Feet




The Caroline Keck Papers relate to the professional relationship between Georgia O'Keeffe and art conservator Caroline Keck. Materials include correspondence, invoices, printed material, notes, and photographic material.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is arranged into the following four series and essentially reflects the original order: Correspondence, Printed Material and Notes, Photographic Material, and Paint Chips.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in 2006 by The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation.

Credit Line

Gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation.

Related Materials

Additional letters from Caroline Keck to Georgia O'Keeffe are located in the Alfred Stieglitz / Georgia O'Keeffe Archive, Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Additional Caroline Keck papers are held at The Winterthur Library's Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.

Letters from the Caroline Keck Papers were published, in part, in Georgia O'Keeffe: Color And Conservation by Rene Paul Barilleaux and Sarah Whitaker Peters in 2006.

Ownership and Rights

This collection is the physical property of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply. Contact the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Archivist for further copyright and publication information as it pertains to this collection.

Processing Information

Processing of this collection was completed by Elizabeth Ehrnst in 2014.

Finding Aid to the Caroline Keck Papers, 1946-1981, undated
Elizabeth Ehrnst
May 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Repository

217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe NM 87501 US