| Art History

Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professors
In Conservation and Technical Studies

Thanks to a generous anonymous donation, a new visiting professorship in conservation and technical studies was inaugurated in Fall 2012. The Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professor in Conservation is named in honor of the donor’s grandmother.  Inspired by the Kirk Varnedoe Memorial Professorship, this visiting position will be awarded to a prominent conservator or scientist who can bring to our program new areas for research and teaching.  The Praska Professor will be invited for a semester to the Institute of Fine Arts to teach in his or her area of specialty, particularly in courses designed for both conservation and art history students.  The Professor will also give one public lecture on his or her research at the IFA.

Lawrence Becker received a master’s degree in art history and an advanced certificate in conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts in 1982 and has been a practicing conservator for over thirty-five years. Initially concentrating primarily on the conservation of archaeological sculpture and objects from Egypt, West Asia, and the Greco-Roman world, his focus gradually shifted during his career toward the arts of South, Southeast, and East Asia. The majority of his career has been spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he was Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge of the Objects Conservation Department from 2003 - 2014 and Senior Conservator from 2014 - 2016. He has played a leading role in the Indian Conservation Fellowship Program, working with colleagues in the U.S., the Netherlands and India to enhance the professional development of younger Indian conservators and help address collection needs at Indian museums, monuments, and archaeological sites.

Thea B. van Oosten received a master’s in analytical chemistry from the University of Amsterdam and specialized in polymers at the National Dutch Graduate School of Polymer Science and Technology. For 36 years, Thea was a conservation scientist at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE, former ICN) in Amsterdam before she retired in 2011. In addition to her professional experience, Thea comes to us with an extensive teaching record. As a recognized expert in the conservation of modern and contemporary art and design objects, she has contributed to several publications and books, such as Modern Art, who Cares, Plastics, Collecting and Conserving, Plastics in Art and Preservation of Plastic Artefacts in Museum Collections. One of her research topics was the consolidation of polyurethane foams, which resulted in a book published in May 2011, called PUR Facts, Conservation of Polyurethane foam in Art and Design. In spring 2016, Thea received a stipend as Independent Scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute to complete her most recent book titled A Matter of Choice: Properties of Plastics for Conservation.


Fall 2015: Cathleen Baker
Conservation Librarian and Exhibit Conservator at the University of Michigan Library

Spring 2015: Salvador Muñoz Viñas
Professor, Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), Head of the paper conservation section of the UPV Conservation Research Institute, and Director of the Conservation Department of the UPV

2013 - 2014: Alan Phenix
Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute

2013 - 2014: Julie Wolfe

Associate Conservator in Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation at The J. Paul Getty Museum

Spring 2013: Carol Mancusi-Ungaro
Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Associate Director of Conservation and Research, Whitney Museum of American Art and Founding Director of the Center for Technical Study of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museums

Fall 2012: Christine Frohnert
Christine Frohnert, Conservator of Contemporary Art, Modern Materials and Media, Bek & Frohnert LLC