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William Wei

Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Senior Conservation Scientist
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dr. Wei (1955) is a senior conservation scientist in the Research Department of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE - Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed). He has a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering from Princeton University (1977) and a Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1983). Before working in the cultural heritage field, he spent more than fifteen years in industrial research and development in the areas of advanced materials, mechanical properties, fracture mechanics and fatigue, and corrosion. He has been conducting research into and consulting on the effects of vibrations and mechanical stresses on the condition of fragile works of art and cultural heritage for more than fifteen years. He also conducts research into the effects of cleaning and treatments of objects on their appearance, including: - The use of non-contact roughness measurements to study surface changes, as well as for the identification of objects using “fingerprints”. - The effect of aging and cleaning on the surface, appearance and perception of face-mounted photographs, daguerreotypes, paintings, and outdoor sculpture. - Effect of dust on the condition and perception of objects. - Virtual retouching of discolored objects. A major area of interest is how conservation decisions are influenced by the differing perception of objects by art historians, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, directors, and other collections staff. Dr. Wei has trained as a Socratic dialogue moderator and has organized and moderated over forty dialogues in the past eight years, to help museums and conservation professionals understand each other’s and their own views on issues such as conservation ethics for movable and immovable cultural heritage; the value of conservation and the profession; the conservation of photographs, contemporary art, and digitization; the value of archaeological work; and the subject of dust in museums.