Cunningham-Adams established her independent conservation practice in 1982 after completing an Advanced Painting Conservation Internship at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. Conserving and restoring paintings over the past three and a half decades, she has also traveled widely, consulting and lecturing on painting conservation in the United States, Italy, and South America, and leading workshops in Ecuador and Cuba where institutional training was unavailable.
Training at the Fogg Art Museum followed Cunningham-Adams’ eight years’ study of art history and conservation in Rome, Italy, which culminated with a B.A. Degree from the American College of Rome and a Painting Conservation diploma from the Istituto Centrale del Restauro in Rome in 1980. Her training there included participation in the restoration of 13th century wall paintings by Giotto and Cimabue in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi over a three-year period; 1st century frescos in the Palace of Augustus on Palatine Hill in Rome over a two-year period; and personal treatment of easel paintings by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Cima da Conegliano, Sebastiano del Piombo, Guido Reni, and Titian.
A conservation internship at the Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany for two months in 1979 was followed by the course “Preventive Conservation in Museums” at the International Center for the Study of Preservation in Rome (ICCROM) in 1980.
The orientation her Italian training gave her led to Cunningham-Adams’ particular interest in allowing paintings treated to maintain their proper place in time and history by not endeavoring to make them “look like new” but rather to recover their original aesthetic character so that their own artistic quality is discernible and their historic authenticity is preserved.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation 2004 Preservation Award
- Metropolitan Historical Commission, Nashville-Davidson County 2004 Preservation Award
- Art Commission of the City of New York. Annual Award for Excellence in Design, 1998
- Portsmouth Advocates, Portsmouth, NH Preservation Award, 1988
- Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works; member of its Ethics and Standards of Practice Committee for six years, serving for two as its Chair.
- Consultant to the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation and the Superintendent of Pompeii’s collaboration for preservation of the ancient site: development in 2009, along with engineer George Adams, of an emergency treatment and long-term protection and recovery program for the site’s numerous unearthed and deteriorating ancient Roman frescos.
- USAID five-month Fulbright Senior Lectureship for fifteen lectures in Spanish and conservation consulting to Ecuadorian conservators in eight museums in Quito, Ecuador, 1983
Uncovering the Historic Roots of Brumidi’s Decorations chapter in “To Make Beautiful the Capitol – Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi” compiled by Amy Elizabeth Burton, prepared under the direction of the U.S. Senate Commission on Art, published by U.S. Government Printing Office 2014
Ancient Roman and Renaissance Sources in Brumidi’s Work at the Capitol lecture given at the U.S. Capitol Historical Society Symposium “The Fourth Rome”, with the Italian Cultural Institute, Washington DC October, 2004. Print in process
Denying Historic Reality in “Cesare Brandi Oggi Prime Ricognizioni”, Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi “Brandi Fuori d’Italia” published by Il Prato Casa Editrice for the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivitá Culturali (d’Italia), Italy Nov 2003
The Process of Change in the Brumidi Corridors with George W. Adams, Chapter 15 in “Constantino Brumidi Artist of the Capitol” prepared under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol by Barbara A. Wolanin, Curator, 1998 published by U. S. Government Printing Office
Case Study: Conservation of the Wall Paintings in Warner House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in “Paint in America – The Colors of Historic Buildings”, Edited by Robert W. Moss, published by The Preservation Press for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, DC, 1994.
The Conservation of the Mithraeum in the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin, Fall, 1984, Vol. 39, No.2, p. 12.