Our History


sam fraunces portrait

The firm of Appelbaum and Himmelstein was founded by the partners in 1972, three years after they met while working at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. At its beginning, the firm primarily performed conservation treatments on a variety of paintings, objects, and textiles for museums and private collectors, but soon began consultation on various aspects of collections care, probably the first American conservation practice to do so. 

The partners were early leaders in the field of environmental control in American museums. They published one of the first articles in the museum literature on conservation surveys, in 1986, and organized and taught sessions for the American Association of Museums on museum storage and on museum climate control. In 1987, Mr. Himmelstein was an organizer of a course for the Getty Conservation Institute on preventive conservation, which was given subsequently for many years, and was one of the organizers of four joint American Institute for Conservation / Association for Preservation Technology symposia on collections in historic structures. He also was a writer of the New Orleans Charter, a document that has since been ratified by almost all of the organizations involved with historic preservation.

Ms. Appelbaum taught a course at New York University for fourteen years on collections care, and in 1991 published a book entitled Guide to Environmental Protection of Collections, which has been adopted for use as a textbook in many American training programs. Both partners have published and spoken widely at professional meetings for, among others, the American Association for State and Local History, Colonial Williamsburg, and the New York State Conservation Consultancy, and given a number of public lectures. Mr. Himmelstein has also consulted on conservation matters for the New York Port Authority, the New York City Board of Education, and has been called as an expert witness in several court matters.

The partners have performed conservation assessments and done consulting for many museums, libraries and archives, and historical societies in the Northeast, around the country, and around the world, including the South Street Seaport Museum; the Barnes Foundation; the Newark Museum; the Museums at Stony Brook; the American Museum of Natural History; a new wing on Fenimore House, New York State Historical Association; the United States Holocaust Museum; and Monticello. They worked as consultants on a project at the New Jersey State Museum to replace all of the mechanical systems in their 1964 building and recently completed work on a minimally intrusive environmental control system for Cliveden of the National Trust, one of the best preserved 18th Century buildings in the US and a new wing for the Harn Museum (Gainesville, FL) to house a collection of Asian art. They have also worked on many smaller planning projects including the archives of Barnard College and the Diocese of Brooklyn, and historical societies in Connecticut (New Canaan, Ridgefield), New Jersey (Morris County, Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Montclair), and New York (Hastings, Chemung County, Rockland County). These projects involved the firm’s working on teams for new museum construction and building renovation projects, collections management and storage plans, lighting design, and collections surveys preparatory to conservation treatments. These institutions have mixed collections, including art in a range of media, historical objects, and libraries and archives. Mr. Himmelstein also designed and helped implement a new lighting plan, using fiber optic systems and daylight filtration, for the Hyde Collection (historic residence).

Both partners have been active in the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, the American organization for conservators. Mr. Himmelstein served two years as Vice-President, three years as President, and three years as chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee. Ms. Appelbaum served as AIC Treasurer and Vice-President for five years, chaired the Certification Committee for several years, and headed the AIC Publications Committee, which received more than $500,000 in grant funds from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.  Both are Fellows of the American and International Institutes for Conservation. Ms. Appelbaum is also a member of the Editorial Board of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts, an international journal published by the International Institute for Conservation and the J. Paul Getty Conservation Institute, and is the author of Conservation Treatment Methodology, (Elsevier, 2007). Mr. Himmelstein is an Associate Editor of the AIC Journal, and a member of the Committee on Museum and Art Gallery Lighting of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and a member of the Museum, Gallery, Archive and Library sub-committee of ASHRAE.


 (painting, “Portrait of Samuel Fraunces¬Ě”, artist unkown, circa 1770-1785, Fraunces Tavern, New York)