Heather Richardson


Heather Richardson has been a conservator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, since 2001 and Head of Conservation since 2008. She received a BA (Hons) in Conservation and Restoration from De Montfort University (now the University of Lincoln) in 1998. During the final year of her studies Heather undertook an internship at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Canada, where she was able to research her dissertation ‘Totem Poles: Treatments and Ethical Issues involved in their Conservation’. After graduating Heather spent a year at Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen as an intern in ethnographic conservation through the Historic Scotland internship scheme. This was followed by contracts at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, The British Museum, London, and a 3-month Andrew W Mellon Fellowship at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Heather became an accredited conservator-restorer (ACR) in 2007, with a specialism in ethnographic conservation.


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

2014 [with Andrew Hughes, Kate Jackson, Jeremy Uden, et a]l. ‘With the Greatest Care – Ethnographic Conservation at the Pitt Rivers Museum’. PRM

2012 [with Jeremy Uden et al] ‘Characterisation of the phase map of two ancient Japanese blades through neutron diffraction.’  Journal of the Institute of Conservation, Volume 35, Number 1, March 2012.

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

2008 [with Anne Gunnison] ‘M’Chigeen calling: virtual and material worlds converge at Pitt Rivers Museum’. ICON News

2008 ‘Slug on a Thorn’ in ‘England: The other within: Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum.’

2006 [with Laura Peers] Review, ‘Caring for American Indian Objects: A Practical and Cultural Guide’ Edited by Sherelyn Ogden, Journal of Museum Ethnography, no.18

2004 ‘Conservation of a Maori Canoe Baler’, UKIC Conservation News, no. 90

2002 [with Lorraine Rostant] ‘Repairing a Decoy Cap’, UKIC Conservation News, no. 78

2002 ‘The Conservation of Plains Indian Shirts at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution’, in The Conservation of Fur, Feather and Skin. Conservators of Ethnographic Artefacts Series, No.3, edited by Margot M. Wright, London: Archetype Publications

2001 Review, ‘Arctic Clothing of North America: Alaska, Canada and Greenland’ (a conference held at the British Museum from 28 – 30 March 2001), ICOM Ethnographic Conservation Newsletter, no.21.

Papers, Posters, Lectures

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

2013 [with Ellen Perlstein] Poster, ‘The future of conservation in ethnographic museums.’ The Future of Ethnographic Museums Conference, 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 MuseumsRIME – International Network of Ethnographic Museums, laboratory session, Madrid

2011 [with Kate Jackson] Poster, ‘The Conservation of an Early Gut Skin Sail from the Hudson Strait’.  ICOM-CC 16th Triennial Conference, Lisbon

2011 Poster, ‘Japanese Noh Theatre Masks: Hidden secrets and conservation issues’. The life of things – the preservation of ethnographic objects and their stories. Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Stuttgart

2011 ‘Lending a Helping Hand: The PRM conservator’s role in the Blackfoot Shirts Project’. Blackfoot Project Conference, Pitt Rivers Museum

2011 ‘The Yes Generation! Pitt Rivers Museum conservators working with source communities’. Institute of Conservation Ethnography Group seminar, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

2009 ‘The Changing Face of Conservation at the Pitt Rivers Museum’. Canadian Association for the Conservation of Cultural Property, 35th Annual Conference, UBC, Vancouver

2009 [with Kate Jackson] ‘A New Dialogue: Conservators working with source communities’.  Museums, Curators, and Communities: Embedded approaches to participation, collaboration, inclusion conference, Horniman Museum, London

Curated exhibitions

2015 [with Andrew Hughes and Jeremy Uden] ‘Preserving What is Valued: A World of Repairs’. Pitt Rivers Museum, 2015

2015 [with Andrew Hughes and Jeremy Uden]  ‘Celebrating Imperfection: Ceramics mended during the kintsugi residency and their stories’. Pitt Rivers Museum

Committees and advisory panels

2013 Advisor on “Cultures of Conservation” a five-year project at Bard Graduate Center, NYC, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

2007-2016 Trustee, Leather Conservation Centre, Northampton.