avatar for John Steele

John Steele

Detroit Institute of Arts
Exec Director of CSI/Director of Conservation
Detroit, MI
John Steele is Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where he has worked since 1990. His responsibilities include all aspects of preservation and treatment of three-dimensional works spanning all cultures and time periods in the museum’s encyclopedic collection. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Arts from the State University College at Buffalo. His conservation experience ranges from treating limestone sculpture on the west front of Wells Cathedral to working as site conservator for the Brooklyn Museum’s Mut excavation at the Karnak Temple Complex. Recent projects include a technical examination of the DIA’s Netherlandish altarpiece the Arenberg Lamentation, treatment and installation of 110 objects for the DIA’s traveling exhibit Through African Eyes, and participation in a symposium to determine the authenticity of the DIA’s Mesopotamian sculpture of Gudea of Lagash. He is currently responsible for the care and maintenance of sixteen outdoor sculptures on the grounds surrounding the DIA, including works by Alexander Calder, Anthony Caro, George Rickey, and Tony Smith. His latest project, the conservation of Tony Smith’s Gracehoper, has led to extensive research into the complex issues associated with the treatment of contemporary outdoor painted sculpture.