It’s hard to believe that this week marks two years for me as director of Villa Finale. My time in San Antonio has flown by, mostly thanks to the incredibly warm reception I’ve received from the residents in King William. One of the questions I’m most often asked is “What have you been up to at Villa Finale?” so I thought I’d dedicate a post to the some of the work the Villa Finale staff has been doing up until now.
One of the most major projects is the work on the collection. Lorie Rombro, the Collections Project Manager, and Meg Nowack, the Collections Care Manager, have spent their time going through the collection in the house piece by piece, cleaning them, affixing the accession number, and making sure the entry in the collections database is complete. As our current estimate of the size of the collection is nearing 12,000, you can imagine that it is an enormous undertaking! And in addition to that task, Meg and Lorie have been identifying works of art in the collection that need attention from conservators, and ensuring that each piece is well cared for.
As for the building itself, we’ve spent a great deal of time doing necessary studies and research. The excellent restoration that Mr. Mathis did is now 40 years old, and it’s time to renew some of the work that he did. For example, after noting that some of the wood on the windows was deteriorating, we commissioned an existing conditions report on all of the windows and doors, which will help us to plan for their repair. The repair and weatherstripping of the windows will also allow us to maintain constant environmental conditions inside that will help us to preserve the collection for many years to come. Another study we’ve undertaken is a landscape maintenance plan and existing conditions report, in order to better understand the landscape that Mr. Mathis designed over the years. We’ve also had a survey from a structural engineer to ensure that the building is sound and isn’t in need of any structural repair. You can imagine our relief when we learned that the building is as sound as it ever was! Another study that we commissioned was a code analysis of Villa Finale, which was necessary to identify any potential issues that might arise from Villa Finale’s transition from a private home to a building open to the public.
We’ve also been working to develop our off-site visitor center, which will be housed at 122 Madison, on the edge of the King William district. Having an off-site visitor center will allow us to carefully control the arrival of visitors to Villa Finale, so as to minimize the impact on the nearby residents. The design is complete, and we’ll be beginning renovations to the building shortly – so watch this space for more.