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Canid skull from the US Exploring Expedition (1838-42), treated with mercuric chloride.

Canid skull from the US Exploring Expedition (1838-42). The skull had been treated with mercuric chloride as a preservative during the expedition. Later exposure to ultraviolet radiation from window light or fluorescent lamps caused the mercuric chloride to convert to mercury sulfides and metallic mercury. Photograph by the Conservation Section.

Conservation Staff Members

Cathy HawksCathy Hawks Catharine is an objects conservator specializing in the care of natural science collections and is Museum Conservator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She has over 20 years experience in the field and has worked with over 75 institutions in the US and abroad on issues relating to the assessment, general care, treatment, and exhibition of collections. She formerly taught a graduate course in preventive conservation at the University of Nebraska and currently teaches preventive conservation for George Washington University’s graduate programs in Art History, Anthropology, and Museum Studies.

Mariana Di GiacomoMariana Di Giacomo Mariana Di Giacomo is a paleontologist with special interest in fossil preservation. She graduated in 2012 with a Master in Zoology from the PEDECIBA at Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2006 and 2007 she received tutoring from fossil preparators at the Museo de la Plata, La Plata, Argentina and so began her interest in conservation of fossil bone. She has worked both as a paleontologist and as a teacher since the early beginnings of her career. After two fruitful excavations at Arroyo del Vizcaíno, Sauce, Uruguay, in 2011 and 2012 she became the curator and manager of the collection which now has over 1000 specimens.

Evan CooneyEvan CooneyEvan has been working as a contracted technician in the collections and exhibits departments since 2012. His duties include cleaning and maintenance in exhibit galleries, condition reporting and packing objects for shipment, assisting with installation and deinstallation of exhibits, pest management, and the review of construction documents. He earned his bachelor's degree from Willamette University, and his master's degree from The George Washington University's program in Museum Studies.

Alyx LeBlancAlyx LeBlanc Alyx works as a Conservation Contractor at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. She is in her final semester of the Museum Studies Master's program at George Washington University, focusing on collections management and art history, and has a BA from SUNY Potsdam in history (2012). Alyx is interested in many issues related to museum collections, including collections management practices, protection of cultural heritage, emergency preparedness and disaster response, and legal matters. She was recently awarded the Marie Malaro Excellence in Research and Writing award from GW for her work with a collection of buttons at the National Museum of American History.

Irene Finkelde Smithsonian Conservation Fellow, 2018: Irene Finkelde Irene completed her Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne in 2017, with a focus on objects conservation, natural history conservation and plastics conservation.
Prior to that Irene completed degrees in Audiovisual Archiving, Fine Arts and Photography. Irene is currently undertaking a Postgraduate Fellowship in the Conservation of Museum Collections at the Smithsonian NMNH where her research focuses on fluid preserved specimens and methods to identify the fluid type.

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