Special Projects

John Ward Dunsmore Painting Conservation Project

John Ward Dunsmore (1856-1945) was a late nineteenth early twentieth century American painter. He is best known for his realistic and historically accurate illustrations of American Revolutionary War events and figures. These iconic paintings are widely sought for reproduction in grade school textbooks, government websites and have been used on a special coin produced by the US mint.

Since 1936, Fraunces Tavern Museum has owned the world’s largest collection of Dunsmore paintings. Over the past seventy five years, all forty two paintings have been exhibited at 54 Pearl Street and other locations, such as the Museum of the City of New York.

Some of the paintings have aged more gracefully than others. In the early 2000s, Museum staff noticed that many of the paintings were in need of conservation, due to scratches, holes, yellowing and the like. Conservation would prevent the irreversible deterioration of time and allow the paintings to continue to educate the public as narratives of the nation’s history. The John Ward Dunsmore Painting Conservation Project began.

Here is an example of the difference conservation makes:


“Going to the Hunt” Before Conservation


“Going to the Hunt” After Conservation
2013 Conservation made possible by generous donations from the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Board Members


Over the past nine years the Museum has been able to raise over $130,000 to conserve ALL thirty seven paintings needing conservation!! Paintings are featured in the Museum’s John Ward Dunsmore Gallery exhibition “Keeping the Revolution Alive.”

This monumental three phase project started ten years ago and is near completion. Phase one was the conservation of 37 paintings funded. Phase two was the creation of a catalog detailing the project and artist.  The third phase is a grand exhibition of all the pieces planned.  This exhibition, “Dunsmore: Illustrating the American Revolutionary War”  will open on June 17, 2016.

This project has been made possible through the generous contributions of Dr. Michael C. Wolf and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The Museum staff and Board are grateful to all those who have helped forward this ambitious conservation project!