My name is Ainslie Harrison and I’m a conservator specializing in
archaeological and ethnographic objects. I began surveying the
ceramics from the site of Pachacamac, Peru in the Penn Museum
collection a few months ago as part of a year-long fellowship funded
by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). I was
incredibly excited to join the conservation department at the Penn
museum as the collection here is truly amazing!
I received my masters in Art Conservation in 2008 from Queen’s University and have since had fellowships at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute and the National Museum of the American Indian. I’ve also worked at archaeological sites in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Panama. My research focus for the last several years has been on the analysis of pre-Columbian gold and resin objects from Panama and I plan to return to Panama this year as a conservator with the Fundación El Caño .
I first heard of conservation back in 2001 when I was still an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz majoring in Art History and Anthropology. I travelled to Italy to gain more experience in conservation and there I worked on my first ceramics. While I was examining a Roman vessel, I noticed a fingerprint in the black slip and I was immediately struck by the fact that this individual had held the same pot hundreds of years before. It is that feeling of connecting with the past that really drew me into conservation and still strikes me as one of the most rewarding aspects of my job today.