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Alumni

Megan Crouch

Career Path: Postgraduate Intern, Art Conservation de Rigueur
Location:

Megan CrouchI have always loved history, and love learning about history through the objects that have been left behind to tell the stories. Conservation provided me with a way to connect with history, the tangible link I had been searching for! It gave me the opportunity to play my own role in history; to study it, to work with it, and to preserve it. The combination of history, science and the application of fine manual skills was the perfect blend of existing passions and new challenges for me to devote my career to. Once I made my decision, I never looked back. After graduating from Arizona State, I went abroad to the London School of Picture and Frame Restoration to study painting conservation for two years.Those two years confirmed my love for conservation. At that point I was ready to take my studies further with a graduate degree. Northumbria University's Masters in Conservation of Fine Art was the perfect next step for me.

Where are you doing now?

I am currently a Postgraduate Intern at Art Conservation de Rigueur, a private art conservation studio in San Francisco, CA. I perform conservation treatments to a wide range of historic textiles, objects and paintings. My current project is the treatment of a series of six draperies from the Filoli Estate, a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the San Francisco bay area. The draperies require cleaning, removal of old repairs, and stabilisation of the fragile fabric and lining.

I am also working with another conservator on the conservation treatment of an 18th century Spanish Colonial sarga painting from the Carmel Mission collection titled The Divine Shepherdess, which is the painting I studied for my thesis at Northumbria. After becoming aware of the poor condition of the painting and its historic significance (being one of only a handful of objects of its kind) I applied for a grant and received funding to preserve this painting. I have recently published an article in the French conservation journal CeROArt documenting the painting's conservation treatment (http://ceroart.revues.org/4093).

I am on the Art Research Committee at the Carmel Mission where I help study the art collection and advocate for its conservation. I am also an active member of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network In San Francisco through the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. I remain dedicated to the preservation of not only our collective cultural heritage but of the artifacts that make up our own personal legacies such as family heirlooms.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals / give your career an edge?

Studying at Northumbria gave me the professional degree that I need to become a recognised art conservator. It gave me the key to my future and so much more! It provided me with invaluable experiences through internship positions with several museums and historic properties including the National Trust's Seaton Delaval Hall, The Guildhall Art Gallery in London and 1 Moray Place in Glasgow.

What was the best thing about your course?

One of the best things about the course was the fantastic conservation studio we had to work in. Our studio was in Burt Hall, a historic building on campus which housed a large sun-lit room equipped with top notch conservation tools and materials and remains the best conservation studio I have ever seen.

Who inspired you the most, and why?

Although many of my tutors and the staff members at Northumbria were committed to making my education experience an enriching one, Dr Jane Colbourne is the one who stands out as the one who inspired me the most. She was the first person I encountered when contacting Northumbria to learn about the course and I'll never forget my first conversation with her where she enthusiastically explained everything I needed to know about the programme whilst making special arrangements to speak with me due to our eight-hour time difference. She instructed, supported and encouraged me throughout the entire course and has remained committed to helping me advance my career well after graduation. Her passion for conservation, tireless work ethic, admirable advocacy and public outreach efforts and scintillating demeanor have made her an outstanding professor and it has been a privilege to be her student.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now/ throughout your career?

The skills and experience I have gained during my time at Northumbria have provided me with a sound understanding of the techniques and materials available for use in the field of conservation and a basis on which to continue to build upon. I also learned to collaborate in a multicultural, international setting, which has given me an appreciation of the diversity of opinions and approaches towards conservation as well as high ethical standards.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I enjoyed the facilities on campus such as Sports Central where I took yoga and fencing classes and the library where I could obtain nearly every resource I needed while writing my dissertation (which was quite a feat since most of my sources came from either Spain or Mexico!). I also appreciated the beautiful surrounding countryside of Northumbria and the fact that I could take the train to London or Edinburgh for the weekend! Arguably the best part of studying at Northumbria for me personally was the opportunity it gave me to live in a foreign country and to meet people from all over the world. It was the experience of a lifetime.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Make it happen.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in 3 words?

Enriching. Inspiring. Unforgettable.

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