Skip to Content

Textile conservator Joseph V. Columbus examines a tapestry, 1978. Courtesy National Gallery Archives

Preserving Our Past: Conservation in America

Celebrating Conservation

  • Monday, November 14, 2022
  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Registration Required
  • Virtual Program

Join us for the first session of Celebrating Conservation: A Series of Conversations on Its Past, Present, and Future.

Art conservation as a profession in the United States experienced growth following the establishment of training programs, institutional departments, and regional and research centers, with trained conservators working in private practice. This discussion examines how the profession has expanded over the past 50 years, from methodologies that emphasize treatment of traditional European and American art to encompass a broader definition of cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible.

Prerecorded talks are now online and available for streaming until December 12, 2022.


Kaywin Feldman
Director, National Gallery of Art

Steven Nelson
Dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts


Debra Hess Norris
University of Delaware and Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation
Prerecorded talk: “In My Life: Observations on the Evolution of Conservation Education and Training”
Bibliography (PDF)

Debra Hess Norris is the Unidel Henry Francis du Pont Chair and professor in the Department of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware (UD), and director of the Winterthur/UD Program in Art Conservation since 1997. She has authored 45 articles and book chapters on the care of photographic materials and has led preservation initiatives as well as over 150 workshops worldwide. She is honored to serve on a multitude of national boards and advisory councils. Among other treasured awards from the American Institute for Conservation and Heritage Preservation, Norris won the Francis Alison Faculty Award, UD’s top faculty honor, in 2018.

Soon Kai Poh
Museum of Modern Art
Prerecorded talk: “Reimagining Conservation: Asking Conservation Questions”

Soon Kai Poh is an objects conservator and presently the David Booth Fellow in Objects Conservation at the Museum of Modern Art. He is a graduate of the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He was previously a postgraduate fellow at Bard Graduate Center, where he cocurated, with an interdisciplinary faculty committee, Conserving Active Matter, an exhibition that presents and explores conservation as a process of inquiry.


Matthew Hayes
Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and the Pietro Edwards Society for Art Conservation
Prerecorded talk: “Paintings Conservation before the National Gallery”

Matthew Hayes is a paintings conservator based in New York, where he directs the Pietro Edwards Society for Art Conservation and serves as the Kress Postdoctoral Associate in Paintings Conservation and lecturer at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He has published on the theory, philosophy, and history of conservation and the painting techniques of Italian Renaissance artists.


Michelle Facini
Senior Paper Conservator
Paper Conservation, National Gallery of Art