Conservator

 
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I have been at the forefront of the conservation of fashion and textiles for twelve years. My philosophy merges theory and practice, and privileges collaboration with key stakeholders, including artists, designers, collections staff, installers, curators, scientists, and source communities. I pioneered a methodology for fashion conservation that advocates a materials- and values-based approach.  I champion the recognition of conservators' intellectual contributions to the field of art, design, and fashion history, and especially to the exhibition-making process. I invented the hashtag #fashionconservation. 

 
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 Christian Dior's iconic "Bar" suit during the installation of the CI's 2016 "Manus x Machina" exhibition

Christian Dior's iconic "Bar" suit during the installation of the CI's 2016 "Manus x Machina" exhibition

The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since 2012, I have been the head of the fashion conservation lab at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I am responsible for the preservation of the fashion collection, the safe display of fashion and costume artifacts, and the development of the conservation research program. I have grown the conservation laboratory from one full-time permanent conservator (myself) to five full-time permanent conservators, with additional reoccurring fellowship and graduate internship appointments. During my tenure I have guided the conservation program for the Museum's largest and most visited exhibitions, initiated a multi-year project on the preservation of synthetic materials within fashion collections, overseen the creation and equipment fit-out of a new laboratory, and played a leading role in the safe transfer of collections into purpose-built onsite and offsite storage facilities. With the generous support of CI's leadership, I have significantly increased the profile of the laboratory through promoting the excellent work of our team. For example, see this behind-the-scenes feature on Google Arts + Culture.


Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

From 2006 to 2012, I was the textile conservator for the Cooper-Hewitt, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution. As an apprentice under the highly respected conservator, Lucy Commoner, I was a key player in nearly a dozen exhibitions, guided the build-out of a new offsite collections storage facility, assisted with the redesign of a new textile conservation laboratory, co-wrote and administered grants totaling nearly $1 million, and oversaw the rehousing of hundreds of artifacts. It was in this position that I developed my expertise in preventive conservation. Notably, I was appointed to a dual position as assistant fashion curator and textile conservator by the esteemed and dearly missed design visionary, Bill Moggridge.  

 Andrea Zittel's felt dresses displayed in Cooper-Hewitt's 2009 exhibition "Fashioning Felt"

Andrea Zittel's felt dresses displayed in Cooper-Hewitt's 2009 exhibition "Fashioning Felt"


 Mounting a miniature weaving by Sheila Hicks

Mounting a miniature weaving by Sheila Hicks

Bard Graduate Center

From 2004 to 2012, I installed and conserved fashion and textiles for Bard Graduate Center's groundbreaking exhibitions. I led the conservation program for their award-winning shows Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor and Knoll Textiles: 1945 - 2010. For the Knoll Textile catalog, I analyzed the weave structures of over 100 textiles, providing key insights to the curators. The fondest memory of my time working at BGC is that of Sheila Hicks, bending over my shoulder as I mounted one of her textiles, urging me to weave back in a stray warp. 


Marianne Lehmann Vodou Collection,
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I was the only textile conservator appointed to the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project, a joint UNESCO and Smithsonian Institution project developed after the 2010 earthquake. I was assigned to conserve the Marianne Lehmann Vodou Collection, undoubtedly the most important collection of Vodoun artifacts in the world. A primary goal of the project was to provide support and expertise in training emerging Haitian conservation professionals. You can read more about the project in a book that was published after the project ended. I have never, ever, treated objects with such power, and that commanded such respect. 

 Vacuuming a Bizango doll in the Marianne Lehmann Vodou Collection

Vacuuming a Bizango doll in the Marianne Lehmann Vodou Collection