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​Welcome to the WUDPAC Class of 2023! (Top row, l-r: Margaret O'Neil, Elle Friedberg, Riley Cruttenden, Verónica Mercado Oliveras. Middle row: l-r: Sarah Freshnock, Kaeley Ferguson, Alyssa Rina, Meghan Abercrombie. Bottom row, l-r: Katharine Shulman, Olav Bjornerud.)

The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) is pleased to highlight the accomplishments of our first-year students, the Class of 2023. We value the skill and expertise they will bring to the Program and our profession. The students of the Class of 2023 recognize that their paths to admission at WUDPAC relied heavily on volunteer-based internships, minimally paid jobs, and relocations without financial support. WUDPAC is reviewing many internal practices, including the admissions process, and is committed to creating a more inclusive and equitable conservation education and training program. We encourage our cultural heritage sector to continue and strengthen their efforts to move away from unpaid labor and under-paid labor as prerequisites to work in the field. These barriers discourage diversity in the cultural heritage sector, the kind of diversity that our communities and cultural collections deserve. 

Members of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) Class of 2023 come from Puerto Rico and across the contiguous United States. The ten incoming students have each prepared for this program with (on average) more than five years of training, conservation internships, and relevant professional experiences. The COVID-19 Pandemic has underscored the important role of arts and cultural expressions in our lives. Now more than ever, the Class of 2023 is committed to ensuring the safety, vitality, and longevity of our shared cultural heritage. 

The incoming class members have worked with over forty institutions across Europe and North America, ranging in scope from private conservation practices to national museum collections. These experiences have offered the students an international perspective on cultural heritage and a dynamic range of professional skills. Their activities included technical research and conservation treatments in libraries and archives as well as archaeological, social history, anthropological, and fine art collections. The students have assisted in preventive conservation, stabilization treatments, and the disaster recovery following Hurricane Maria. Several students employed 3D modelling technology in novel conservation solutions, while others have had opportunities to collaborate with and learn from indigenous knowledge bearers. The incoming students have assisted in conservation treatments ranging from small architectural models to large ceramic vessels, from contemporary art to historical costumes, and from paper ephemera to rare books. Technical research projects have centered on the study of cultural heritage using optical microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, x-radiography, scanning electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and other analytic tools.

Members of the class have further expanded their conservation knowledge by attending numerous workshops and conferences. They have attended and presented talks and posters at conferences across the US and abroad, including several annual meetings of AIC, the Annual Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit, the Penn Symposium, the Infrared and Raman Users Group, and a material culture conference in London. The fellows are already members of conservation organizations including the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), AIC's Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN), and local conservation associations across the country such as New England Conservation Association (NECA), Washington Conservation Guild (WCG), Philadelphia Area Conservation Association (PACA), and Midwest Regional Conservation Guild (MRCG).

Driven by their desire to protect cultural heritage for future generations and give back to their communities, the newest fellows have demonstrated leadership with conservation organizations and heritage initiatives. Fellows have served in important roles with ECPN and as mentors for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities/ECPN mentorship program. Some of the fellows serve on boards of conservation associations including PACA and the WCG. Several fellows have contributed to current or forthcoming publications and posters including topics on mass spectrometry, woodblock prints, flat-back scrapbooks, Oddy testing, Japanese painted sliding doors, Victorian-era bookcloth, and paint cross-section preparation.

Apart from their robust conservation experiences, the WUDPAC Class of 2023 bring to the program an array of hobbies and unique skills. Their studio art practices have influenced their conservation work and include textile arts, sculpting, book binding, mold-making, drawing, and painting. Over the years, they have developed unique hand skills with various projects in gilding, woodworking, and even fly tying for fly fishing! Apart from conservation work, you might find the 2023 fellows with books in their hands, exercising, hiking, volunteering locally, planting, or listening to podcasts. 

These inquisitive new fellows are eager to expand their understanding of conservation chemistry, gain further experience with analytical tools, and strengthen their conservation treatment skills. They seek to expand and brighten our profession through learning grant writing skills, engaging communities in the care of cultural heritage, and especially by committing to make the field more welcoming and accessible to diverse emerging professionals.  The class of 2023 looks forward to learning from the WUDPAC faculty and visiting professors, and to collaborating with fellow students in order to preserve cultural heritage for years to come!  

Class of 2021  Download PDF

Class of 2022  Download PDF

Class of 2023  Download PDF (in Spanish)

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu