The University of Arizona
Conservator excavates preserved basketry fragments from block lifted ceramicConservation scientist examines feathered object for pesticide residues


Nancy and Teresa working on a ceramic vessel

Arizona State Museum's Preservation Division actively supports and promotes the museum's policy to preserve and protect the collections entrusted to its care. The treatment of objects is guided by the principle that the integrity of the object should be preserved in every way possible.

To meet the ethical, legal and educational concerns related to these responsibilities, and to maintain the highest standards of practice and to provide reliable advice, assistance, and information on the most current knowledge and practices, ASM conservators collaborate with museum colleagues, University of Arizona departments, as well as regional, national, and international cultural communities, institutions, and related agencies.

ASM has long placed a high priority on conservation and collections care. In the late 1970s the Arizona Board of Regents approved a faculty-level conservator position for the museum, which hastened the establishment of the state's first museum conservation laboratory at ASM. In the 1980s, curricula for the care of archaeological and ethnographic collections, as well as an emergency response manual for university museums, were developed and published. Both remain international standards to this day.

Nancy Odegaard examining an objectNow housed in a state-of-the-art facility, the conservation laboratory is staffed by Nancy Odegaard, Ph.D. (conservator), Teresa Moreno, M.A., M.A. (associate conservator), Gina Watkinson (administrative assistant), and numerous dedicated volunteers and students. With collaborative support from museum staff, the lab provides preventive and interventive conservation of ASM's vast collections, serves the public through workshops and queries, instructs scores of conservation students, and continues to conduct cutting-edge research.

Funded by sources including the National Science Foundation; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology; and the Bay Paul, Kress, Stockman, Gutmann, and Getty Foundations, investigations conducted in the lab include:

  • characterization tests for objects of art and archaeology
  • testing of pesticide residues on museum objects
  • new protocols for ceramic care
  • integrated pest management systems
  • conservation science curriculum development

For more information, contact us by email or at 520-621-6314.

Photos by ASM staff