Karen Coote

Karen gained a Bachelor or Arts at Sydney University in 1974, then attained the Bachelor of Science degree in archaeological conservation at London University in 1981.  She commenced work at the Australian Museum in August of 1981 commencing as a Conservator Grade 1, Yr 1, progressing to Senior Conservator level.  Her responsibilities have included conservation related matters of exhibition development and practical treatments in materials conservation; management of student and volunteer work experience program, and the running of the Museum’s Aboriginal Outreach Conservation Program. Karen has also published a number of articles in museological journals on ethnographic conservation and the production and preservation of Aboriginal cultural materials.

In being awarded the Conservator of the ear Award for 1997, Karen has been recognised for substantial and continuing achievements in the area of conservation outreach for artifacts held in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander keeping places and cultural centres.  This has included large volumes of field work and workshops around Australia, culminating in the production of a manual Care of Collections: Conservation Advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Material in Keeping places and Cultural Centres which will be published by the end of August 1997.  Karen has also strongly encouraged the development of keeping place networks to encourage closer working relationships and resource exchanges.

Her outstanding research achievements which have contributed to conservation knowledge I the areas o Aboriginal and Pacific Island objects conservation include:

•Her ground breaking paper on Marindamin resins presented at the SCCR 1995 conference followed by workshops in Scotland and Amsterdam.

•Her research in to the consolidation of 3000 year old Lapita pottery was essential and innovative, as have been her successful efforts to promote conservation issues to archaeologists working on ancient Pacific materials.  She has been invited to conserve Lapita pottery by the people of New Caledonia.

•Her development of a sympathetic and protective method to mount bark paintings for display

Karen has maintained unswerving commitment to training and mentoring for conservators at the start of their training whether pre-program, during training or for recent graduates.  Many of Australia’s current objects conservators have been assisted with major career developments and receive continuing encouragement after working with Karen.  She has hosted a number of overseas student internships and has set up several Aboriginal identified traineeships in the laboratory.

Her strenuous efforts have helped to ensure that conservation has remained a central consideration within Museums Australia and before it Heritage Collections Committee and the heritage Collections Conservation Working Group.  She also has a long history of involvement in the AICCM as an office bearer and general contributor to the achievement of AICCM’s goals and objectives.

AICCM National Newsletter No. 64 September 1997

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