Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professor
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 is awarded to a prominent conservator or scientist who brings new areas for research and teaching to our program. The Praska Professor is 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 also gives one public lecture on his or her research at the Institute. Previous lectures by the Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professor in Conservation can be found in our video archvive.watch online
The Institute is pleased to announce the appointments of Yvonne Rose Shashoua and Lucy Commoner as the 2019 - 20 Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professors in Conservation and Technical Studies. Shashoua will join the Institute in Fall 2019 and will teach The Conservation Science of Plastics. Commoner will offer a course on Textiles in the Museum Context: Understanding, Preserving, and Presenting in Spring 2020.
Yvonne Shashoua is currently a Senior Researcher at the National Museum of Denmark and a consortium member of the Velux MarinePlastic research center leading the interdisciplinary research into degradation of plastics. She has researched plastics in cultural heritage at the British Museum and National Museum of Denmark since 1989 and has more than 100 publications. Her book, 'Conservation of Plastics' published by Elsevier in 2008 has sold more than 3000 copies. She is a guest lecturer at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the Universities of Oslo, Gothenburg, and Gotland, as well as Metropolia University (Finland), the Canadian Conservation Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in plastics deterioration from the Technical University of Denmark, a Diploma in Management in Museums from the Industrial Society (London), and a BSc with Honors in Industrial Chemistry from the City University of London.
Lucy A. Commoner
Lucy A. Commoner is Conservator Emerita at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where she was the senior textile conservator from 1977-2016, and head of Conservation from 2004-2016. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and studio art from Brown University and studied weaving and textile design at the Rhode Island School of Design. She began her career in conservation as an Assistant Restorer for the Textile Conservation and Egyptian Departments at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1974-1977. Her areas of expertise include early Dynastic Egyptian textiles, folding fans (history and conservation), museum storage systems, fiber identification and microscopy, exhibition and mounting techniques for textiles, and the construction and maintenance of conservation environments. At Cooper Hewitt, Commoner developed a comprehensive storage and exhibition system for all types of textiles, costumes, and costume accessories that has been in use at the museum and its collection storage facility for the past 40 years.
2018 - 2019
Harriet Stratis served as Conservator of Prints and Drawings and Head of Paper Conservation at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1995-2013. Subsequently, she assumed the role of senior research conservator before retiring in 2017. She holds an MA in Art History and an Advanced Certificate in Conservation from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. Her scholarship has focused on the study of the materials and techniques of 19th-century artists including Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon, and James McNeill Whistler. Throughout her career she has partnered with curators and conservation scientists to explore the myriad ways in which materials usage informs artists’ biographies and the chronological trajectory of their production.
Jim Coddington recently retired from the Museum of Modern Art as the Agnes Gund Chief Conservator after thirty years as a paintings conservator. He has an MS in conservation from the University of Delaware and a BA from Reed College. He has published and lectured on a wide range of research topics, often with art historians, conservators, and scientists. In addition to his conservation-related publications, he has contributed essays as well as technical studies of Pollock, de Kooning, Miro, Cézanne, and Pissarro to catalogs and collections including Mortality/Immortality, Jackson Pollock: New Approaches, De Kooning: A Retrospective, Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting, and Object:Photo. He was co-editor with Maryan Ainsworth of the 1996 issue of the Art Journal devoted to Conservation and Art History.
2017 - 2018
Karl Buchberg has a B.A. from Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in art history and an advanced certificate in conservation from the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He was the Conservator of Rare Books and Specials Collections at the Firestone Library of Princeton University from 1980-1986. He was a part time lecturer at the Conservation Program at the School of Library Service at Columbia University from 1984-1990. He has recently retired after a tenure of thirty years from The Museum of Modern Art where he was Senior Conservator specializing in paper conservation. During this time, he was co-curator for the landmark exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MoMA; the first time a conservator had the role of curator at the museum. In addition, he contributed technical catalogue essays for both the Georges Seurat, The Drawings and Degas: A Strange New Beauty.
David Saunders received his DPhil in chemistry before joining the National Gallery, London in 1985. From 2005–2015 he was Keeper of the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research at the British Museum, where he is now an honorary research fellow. His research interests – and the subjects of over 100 publications in the field – encompass the deterioration of museum objects, particularly pigments and painted surfaces and the effect of display and storage environments on such damage. He also pioneered the application of high-resolution digital imaging methods to assist in the examination of paintings and other cultural heritage objects. He is a Syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a fellow and vice president of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC). From 2003 to 2009 he was IIC Director of Publications and was an editor of Studies in Conservation for nearly 20 years. He was a guest scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute in 2015-2016, researching a book on museum lighting for conservators and curators. He returned to the Getty Research Institute and the Waddesdon Archive at Waddesdon Manor in 2017 as the inaugural Getty/Rothschild Fellow.
2016 - 2017
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
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.
2015 - 2016
Conservation Librarian and Exhibit Conservator at the University of Michigan Library
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
2014 - 2015
Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute
Associate Conservator in Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation at The J. Paul Getty Museum
2013 - 2014
2012 - 2013
Christine Frohnert, Conservator of Contemporary Art, Modern Materials and Media, Bek & Frohnert LLC
Faculty & Fields of Study
•Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor
•Judith Praska Visiting Professors
Institute Lecturers & Affiliated Faculty
Conservation Lecturers &
Foreign Language Instructors