Exploring the Role of a Preventive Conservator

Melissa has been actively learning about the role a preventive conservator plays within an institution through interviews and from shadowing her major supervisor and preventive conservator for the Winterthur Museum Garden & Library, Dr. Joelle Wickens, to many of the Winterthur meetings to learn more about the role of a preventive conservator within a museum setting.

  • Conservation, Curatorial, Registration, and Exhibitions Meeting (CCRE) – a monthly meeting with curators, conservators, registrars,  art handlers, preparators, and exhibit designers to discuss the  progress on upcoming exhibits.
  • Preventive Team Meetings – a monthly meeting with conservators and preventive technicians to implement preventive goals for the museum such as updating Winterthur’s preventive documents or produce outreach materials
  • Room Committee Meetings – a monthly meeting with curators and registrars to identify objects that should be moved from display in the house to accessible storage as well as objects which no longer fit Winterthur’s Collecting Policy and should be deaccessioned.
  • Accessible Storage Meetings – meetings to define Winterthur’s interpretation of accessible storage and brainstorming ideas on how to implement this goal through selected readings and discussions.
  • Preventive conservation liaison for exhibition on 20th century furniture – working with a graduate fellow from the Winterthur  Program in American Material Culture for preventive considerations of the design and installation of the exhibit
  • Yuletide Care in Handling Training – yearly training for Winterthur volunteers to assist in the deinstallation of objects within the galleries in preparation for the seasonal Yuletide exhibit.

Along with her involvement in Winterthur activities, Melissa has been interviewing practicing conservators to research the role of conservation treatment in preventive conservation. This work has cumulated in a report that outlines some goals for the preventive conservation curriculum at Winterthur.