Katie Shulman ’15

Katie first learned about conservation in her high school art history class and from that moment there was no looking back! During her undergraduate studies Katie interned with private practice conservators Donna Williams (as a Wilson Conservation Intern through the RCWG) and Gawain Weaver.  She also interned at San Francisco’s de Young Museum and Asian Art Museum. She spent her junior year studying at SACI in Florence, Italy which solidified her desire to pursue conservation and she highly recommends the experience to anyone interested in the field.

Conservation classes with Professors Eric Doehne and Alice Boccia-Paterakis were highlights of her Scripps experience. “Having the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with professionals in the field was truly incredible and furthered my understanding of conservation in ways I never could have imagined. I had their constant support and encouragement, they had so much knowledge to share and I knew I could always go to them for guidance.”

After graduating from Scripps in 2015 with a BA in art conservation, Katie moved to the east coast for a summer internship in the Objects Lab at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). Katie had never been to Philadelphia but was willing to go wherever she could find a position as pre-program work is tough to come by. Through hard work, Katie turned that 2-month internship into a 5-year job as a conservation technician! “My first project was preparing, re-housing and moving over 500 objects to offsite storage which tied in perfectly to my senior thesis and interest in art transport and storage techniques. I quickly became enamored with the variety of materials in objects conservation and dove into hands-on treatments ranging from an Olivetti Praxis 48 typewriter to a 9th century Indian votive stupa to a porcelain fashion doll.”

With the networking skills Katie strengthened at Scripps she was offered a technician position at the Barnes Foundation.  In 2016 she began splitting her time between the Barnes and the PMA to diversify her experience. At the Barnes she focused primarily on the treatment of carved and gilded frames as well as preventive conservation duties.

For the past few years, she has also been working with the Analytical Lab at the PMA on a variety of projects including FTIR analysis of Disney animation cels and FTIR, XRF and cross-section analysis of Japanese Sugito. “Working with senior scientist Beth Price, I presented Japanese Sugito in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Investigation of Painted Decorations and Soluble Nylon Coating as a poster at 13th Biennial IRUG Conference in Sydney, NSW.”

Katie is continuing her studies as an objects major and preventive minor at the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). She is passionate about conservation outreach and engaging and inspiring students through museum and community programs. “Please reach out if you’re interested in pursuing conservation!”