Céline Wachsmuth awarded Conservation Institute grant


Céline Wachsmuth

Céline Wachsmuth, a graduate student in the UCLA/Getty MA Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, has been awarded a “Take a Chance” grant from the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). The award will be used to help fund her thesis research. “It is truly exciting that Céline was awarded this grant,” commented Glenn Wharton, chair of the Interdepartmental Program in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. “This highly competitive grant is awarded to imaginative and innovative research in cultural heritage conservation. Céline’s research on green solvents for consolidating ceramics fits the bill. During lockdown, she pivoted to perform her research at home, rather than in our labs. Her work is perfectly suited for archaeological field conditions without filtered ventilation and solvent recycling systems,” he explained.

According to Vanessa Muros, director of the Experimental and Archaeological Sciences Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute, who has worked closely with Wachsmuth, the award is especially notable because Wachsmuth is the only UCLA/Getty student that has received it for their MA thesis. The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the FAIC work together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. The “Take a Chance” grant offers support to help defray costs for innovative conservation research or projects that may not otherwise be funded. According to the guidelines, preference may be given to applicants who have considered how their project could benefit an underserved community or little known/worked on factor of cultural heritage.

Photographing ceramic test tiles

Image from an Instagram post demonstrating the role of photography in Wachsmuth’s research process.

Wachsmuth is looking at green alternatives to the treatment of low-fired ceramics with chemical solvents. Little has been published on ceramic consolidation treatments, and with her research, Wachsmuth hopes to gain an understanding of current practices through a professional survey and assessment of the utility of selected water-based consolidants through experimentation. She will also engage in dialogue with some source communities on when treatment is appropriate in order to provide a holistic view of conservation intervention.  She has an internship in Alaska beginning this summer and will return to campus in January, 2022.

To follow the research Wachsmuth has been doing at home during quarantine, check out her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/stuckinsideconservation/. For information on how to support our research and education in archaeology and conservation, please contact Michelle Jacobson at mjacobson@ioa.ucla.edu.