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Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson
Assistant Curator of African and Ancient Mediterranean Collections
Collections responsibility: Supporting the curators of Africa and the Ancient Mediterranean; working with collections from Africa and the Ancient Mediterranean.
Research interest: Museological collaborations with source communities; original repairs and re-used objects found in world cultures collections; ethical issues surrounding the collecting and restitution of World Cultures collections; Northwest Coast art

Heather graduated with a BA(Hons) degree in Conservation and Restoration from De Montfort University, Lincoln in 1998, completing her dissertation on the conservation of totem poles. During her studies she undertook an internship at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada. She spent a year at Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen from 1998-1999 as Historic Scotland Conservation Bureau intern in Ethnographic Conservation. Heather then undertook short contracts at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter and the British Museum conserving organic World Cultures collections.

In 2000 Heather spent 3-months at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC under the Andrew W Mellon Fellowship scheme, where she worked on the exhibition Beauty, Honour and Tradition: The Legacy of Plains Indian Shirts.

Heather joined the conservation department of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford in 2001, becoming Head of Conservation in 2008 until 2016. She became an Accredited Conservator Restorer (ACR) in 2007. While at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Heather regularly worked with source communities to re-engage with their material culture, including Haida and Māori groups. In 2010 Heather travelled to Alberta, Canada, with five Plains hide shirts to facilitate handling workshops with Blackfoot communities. She was co-recipient of the Michael M Ames Award for Innovative Museum Anthropology in 2011 for her work on the Blackfoot Shirts Project. In 2013 she was invited to be an adviser on ‘Cultures of Conservation’, a five-year project at Bard Graduate Center, NYC.

2016 [with Jeremy Uden and Rachael Lee], ‘The Conservation and Display of the Tahitian Mourner’s Costume at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford’ in ‘Refashioning and Redress: Conserving and Displaying Dress.’ Getty Publications.

2011, ‘Taking the ancestors on a visit: the role of conservators in reconnecting a collection of historic Blackfoot shirts with the community.’ Preprints ICOM-CC 16th Triennial Conference, Lisbon.

Selected Papers and Posters

2015 ‘A New Dialogue: Conservators working with source communities.’ Museum of Cultural History, departmental seminar, University of Oslo.

2013 [with Ellen Pearlstein] Poster, ‘The future of conservation in ethnographic museums.’ The Future of Ethnographic Museums Conference, University of Oxford.

2013 [with Andrew Hughes, Kate Jackson, Jeremy Uden, Tracey Wedge], “Who Cares? One man’s sacred is another man’s “curiosity””. Sensitive objects in Ethnographic Museums, RIME – International Network of Ethnographic Museums, laboratory session, Madrid.

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