Tuesday, June 9, 2009 The Vis Center recently hosted Chris Collins, Head of Conservation from the Natural History Museum in London, England. Collins toured the Vis Center and also gave a presentation, “Mapping the Deterioration of Natural Objects from Dinosaurs to Genocide”, to a campus-wide audience.
Collins oversees the conservation of the Natural History Museums more than 70 million specimens. His development of models for the preservation of objects of historical, cultural, and scientific value is at the leading edge of preservation methods.
In his presentation Collins highlighted the key role imaging is playing in conservation today. Through the development of non-invasive imaging techniques the conservator can balance the preservation of the object with access to its information. For instance, CT scanning can provide access to data while minimizing damage to the object from handling. The researcher no longer has to come to the specimen, but can instead use the scans for research purposes. Other techniques being developed make use of 3D replicas that can be used for research purposes.
While the majority of his research takes place on-site in the Natural History Museum, Collins is also involved in the preservation of bodies from the Rwandan Genocide. He has advised on the creation of large sized oxygen-free storage to preserve bodies. Collins previously collaborated with Dr. W. Brent Seales, Director of the Vis Center, in 2007 on the Iliad project.