Peggy Van Witt, Founder and Chief Conservator
Peggy Van Witt is a peer-approved fine art conservator and Professional Associate with the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). A third-generation conservator, she practices at her state-of-the-art conservation studio located in the greater Kansas City area.
Van Witt brings exceptional training, knowledge and expertise to every project. Museum standards and methodologies, which adhere to the American Institute for Conservation’s (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, are the hallmark of her studio practice—and her commitment to her clients.
Van Witt has worked as a conservator in Germany, England, Switzerland and Belgium. Prior to moving to Kansas City in 2003, Van Witt was a conservator in private practice in Westport, Connecticut. Initially under the tutelage of renowned conservator, Arnold Wagner, co-founder of Conservators in Private Practice (CIPP), Van Witt collaborated on projects with Mr. Wagner until his retirement in 2009. In addition to her CIPP membership, she is also a member of The New England Conservation Association and the Midwest Regional Conservation Guild.
In the 1970s and '80s, Peggy received two Bachelors degrees and a Masters degree from the University of Southern California, the Art Center College of Design and the University of Maryland's European Division.
Through the years, she has consistently attended industry-related workshops and symposiums to study cutting-edge processes, methodologies and technology to bring to her thriving practice.
A sought-after lecturer on art conservation and the care and treatment of paintings, Van Witt's lectures include hands-on demonstrations and conservation assessments.
Kelsey Urbanek brings extensive visual art, design and framing experience to her responsibilities as structural technician with Van Witt Fine Art Conservation. Prior to joining our team, Urbanek supervised a custom art framing shop where her specialties included archival fitting and mounting techniques, along with unique, customized designs. This foundation of knowledge, skill and experience provide an invaluable contribution to all of the projects she completes.
Urbanek holds a degree in Studio Art, with an emphasis in drawing, from Missouri State University. Also an accomplished jewelry designer and entrepreneur, Urbanek infuses her work with creative vision and expertise, whether in our studio or through her own business, Sonder Isle Creations LLC.
Urbanek believes each art conservation project provides new possibilities for problem solving. “Every piece requires an individualized, tailored approach and presents a fresh challenge, as well as a new opportunity for growth and discovery.”
Dustin joined the studio as our Business Development Manager. With a background in education, fine art, and a recently earned MBA, he was a rare find! He is responsible for improving daily operations, maintaining and developing the website, managing our social media accounts, and marketing the business. He also contributes to the restoration and conservation of fine art, frames, and sculptures.
Dustin holds a degree in Illustration, having graduated from Kansas State University with a BFA. He earned his teaching certification from UMKC and recently completed his MBA program with honors from the UMKC Bloch School.
Maria joined Van Witt Fine Art as an in-painting technician. She also assists with a variety of conservation tasks around the studio.
Maria is originally from Shelyabinsk, Russia, where she received her degrees in both Fine Art and Interior Design. She went on to work as a graphic designer, eventually moving here, where she has called home for the last seven years.
In her free time, Maria favors painting and enjoys teaching others how to paint.
Nellie joined the studio as a conservation technician and works on structural restoration, painting conservation, framing, and administration. Nellie holds a degree in Art History from Wichita State University, and has also studied French, Music, Women’s Studies, and Chemistry.
Before joining the Van Witt team, she worked at multiple galleries and museums, including the Mary R. Koch Arts Center and the Ulrich Museum of Art. Nellie is passionate about preserving cultural heritage through art conservation, and loves having the opportunity to learn something new from each project. In her free time, Nellie loves to read, paint, and play the piano.
John Smith joined the team as a conservation technician in 2013 after 24 years as a humor artist and designer at Hallmark Cards. He assists with structural restoration and conservation of paintings and all digital photo and document restoration.
Smith enjoys relaxing with his wife and dog, scooting to work on nice days and watching old sci-fi movies. He is a graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he majored in advertising and illustration.
Kat Zahner works as a Conservation Technician for Zahner Metal Conservation and assists in the Van Witt Fine Art Conservation Studio.
Zahner acquired the knowledge necessary for the treatment and maintenance of metals working at the four-generation family-owned business, A. Zahner Company, known internationally for their highly crafted architectural metalwork for artists and architects around the globe.
Zahner studied Art History at Montana State University in Bozeman and Creative Writing at Yale University. The Conservation of Art pairs the hands-on restoration process and the story every piece brings with it from fabrication to conservation in the scientific-based processes that determine the least invasive solution while maintaining the artist’s intention for every unique piece.