BC Alumna Goes Viral On TikTok For Art Conservation Efforts

Ellie Acebo-Hermiller cleaning the Cloister space./@ellie_ah on TikTok

By John Schilling


   From its trendy dance videos to comedy skits, TikTok is not typically thought of as a social network used to raise awareness about art conservation efforts, but a Brooklyn College alumna has done just that.

   Ellie Acebo-Hermiller, who graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History last year, gained widespread attention from a TikTok video of her cleaning the Cloister Gallery at Ohio’s Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) last summer. The video, which she uploaded on Jan. 12,  has earned over 3.5 million views and shows Acebo-Hermiller (@ellie_ah) applying a cleaning gel to various ancient stone artworks before peeling the dirt and grime off of them in what TikTok users have called “satisfying.”

   For Acebo-Hermiller, her time in Toledo began while she was still a student at Brooklyn College. Due to COVID-19, Acebo-Hermiller’s classes had been moved online, allowing her to move to Toledo while finishing her degree.

   “I was looking for opportunities to get hands-on conservation experience,” Acebo-Hermiller told The Vanguard. “I started my degree in Art History knowing I wanted to go on to a Master’s program in conservation, and all of those programs require hands-on work hours to apply.”

   Acebo-Hermiller, who spent over 10 years in New York studying art, began volunteering at TMA shortly after graduating from Brooklyn College. Initially, her TikTok videos began as a creative outlet during COVID-19, but her growing popularity on the platform has been shocking as people from all over have resonated with her passion for art conservation.

   In addition to her Cloister Gallery video, Acebo-Hermiller has also uploaded videos talking about various topics in art history, fielding questions from her followers, and painting her own masterpieces, each of which sport a few thousand likes at least. 

   “The TikTok virality has been surprising and a bit overwhelming but also exciting,” she told The Vanguard. “Hopefully it will lead to more work opportunities for me.”

   Even as a rising TikTok star, Acebo-Hermiller still remembers her time at Brooklyn College fondly but regrets that it came to an end during the pandemic. Acebo-Hermiller only spent one and half semesters on campus before the pandemic moved everything online in March 2020.

   “I really miss it,” Acebo-Hermiller told The Vanguard. “I absolutely loved all of my art history professors. I really loved the program.”