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avatar for Barbara Heller-[PA]

Barbara Heller-[PA]

Detroit Institute of Arts
Director and Conservator, Special Projects
Detroit, MI
Barbara Heller is the director and conservator of special projects at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where she has worked since 1976. Hired as the head paintings conservator, she was promoted to chief conservator in 1985 and assumed her current position in 2009. Barbara was formerly paintings conservator at the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, where she completed her training. She was an intern for the Committee to Rescue Italian Art, working on flood-damaged books at Certosa di Galuzzo, and for Wayne State University, at an Etruscan Foundation dig near Siena, in 1968. She holds a certificate from Getty Leadership Institute and credentials from Olivet College, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Harvard University. While Chief Conservator, she was a key Master Plan Project Team member overseeing the 6-year $158.2 million multi-phased Capital Improvements and Building Program. Advocating for the collection environment she collaborated with curators, mechanical engineers and architects. A founding member of the Michigan Alliance for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Barbara created and maintains the online Disaster Preparedness and Conservation Resource Center. In addition, she serves as secretary and chair of the collections committee of the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University; chair of the Public Arts Board in the City of Birmingham, Michigan and past board member of Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, Michigan. She has been a member of AIC’s External Advisory Council, a Regional Guild Representative, and Painting Specialty Group Chair, as well as board member of AAM/ICOM and Heritage Preservation, and past president of the Midwest Regional Conservation Guild. Barbara actively participates in conservation and professional meetings, presents symposia, and conducts numerous outreach activities for students, museum patrons, and the public at large. She participated in the 2010 Boston Roundtable on “Rethinking the Museum Environment” and the 2012 “Climate Control Standards: Fact of Fallacy.” She co-presented "Changing Conservation Environment Guidelines and their Impact on Today’s Museums” with Kevin Shultis, Curt Songer, and Greg Wittkopp, at the 2012 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo™ in Minneapolis, MN and “Balancing the Preservation Needs of the Collections and the Integrity, Cost, and Energy Use of Buildings,” with Meg Loew Craft, Scott Easton, Wendy Heintz-Joehnk, Michael Henry, Matthew Siegal, and Curt Songer, at the 2013 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo™ in Baltimore, MD. Her work is published in the "Bulletin of The Detroit Institute of Arts," "The Journal of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works," and in "Petrus Christus in Renaissance Bruges: An Interdisciplinary Approach."