Conservators are trained to handle and repair museum items. We do this by knowing and understanding materials very well and knowing how and why an object will degrade or be damaged. We take a very respectful approach to repairing museum objects. We are more concerned with preserving the object as it is, with all the evidence of its past and history, instead of making something look like new. We also advise you on things such as the museum environment, loaning objects, handling objects… everything relating to the protection of an object!
Do you specialize in a particular area of conservation?
I specialized in objects during my Masters Masters and I started my career very early by focusing on natural history objects. When you specialize in objects, you cover everything from archeology to fashion collections. I have found that undertaking treatments while working with natural history specimens allowed me to undertake normal daily treatments like painting and filling, but it also allows you to explore new types. treatment of delicate organic materials.
Can you describe a conservation project that was particularly important to you?
There have been so many great projects! But I’ll always have a soft spot for the treatment of the Macquarie Collector’s Chest. It’s a collector’s cabinet assembled by the man himself, built by a convict with Australian cedar, with beautiful paintings by (we think) Joseph Lycett, and full of natural history and ethnographic curiosities. It’s just a huge convergence of things that I love to interact with and I was able to process some parts of it for the State Library. The case also has close ties to Scotland, as it was sent there for a time to be kept in a large castle, in a place called Strathallan, which ended up being quite prophetic because I moved to Scotland for an ICON internship shortly after taking on the treatment – eventually visiting Macquarie’s birthplace on the Isle of Mull.