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Dr Emma Richardson
  • Lecturer
  • Dept of History of Art
  • Faculty of S&HS

Emma joined the Department of History of Art in 2012 as Lecturer in Material Studies, coordinator for the History of Art with Material Studies (HAMS) undergraduate programme, and the Material Studies Laboratory Manager. She is currently the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2016-2017).

She received her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Southampton in 2009, and subsequently took the position of Post-doctoral Fellow at the Getty Conservation Institute (2009-2012). Since joining the Department of History of Art in 2012 she has attracted over £400,000 of funding for laboratory equipment and research. 

Emma’s education and research has combined both material sciences and conservation, which has led to multidisciplinary collaborations with various institutions such as Hampton Court Palace, English Heritage, The National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Getty Research Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Departmental and College administration roles:
Departmental Examinations Chair, Department of History of Art, UCL (2017-ongoing)
UCL East Faculty Steering Committee, Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences, UCL (2015-ongoing)
Coordinator, History of Art with Material Studies (HAMS) undergraduate degree, UCL (2012-ongoing)
Material Studies Laboratory Manager, Department of History of Art, UCL (2012-ongoing)

Research Summary

The overarching focus of Emma’s research is the study of organic polymers in heritage collections, both natural and synthetic. In recent years she has focused her attention on the manufacture, identification and degradation of synthetic polymers with a view to informing contemporary conservation practice. Often employed in modern and contemporary artworks, these materials can be present in many forms such as textiles, films, foams, castings and paint layers. Her most recent interests include the use of unilateral NMR relaxometry to study the migration of moisture into archival film materials and paint structures. 

Presently, she is Principal Investigator on two research projects. The first is funded by the Leverhulme Trust: Physical Impact of Storage and Display Environments on Historic Film Material. The second funded by English Heritage and the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund: Assessing the Impact of LED Lighting on Pigments and Paper in Heritage Collections.

Emma was recently Co-Curator of the exhibition Dangerous Diaries, which opened at the Octagon Gallery, UCL, in September 2015. This exhibition formed one strand of a larger collaboration with the Institute of Making focusing on the risks and rewards of making and fabrication. The project involves archival research, oral history interviews and collaboration with artists and making enthusiasts: http://dangerousdiariesblog.tumblr.com. 

Prior to joining UCL in 2012, Emma was the recipient of a Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) Postdoctoral Fellowship where she worked within the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Group. She advanced her research by overseeing the first stage of the collaborative project between the GCI and Disney Animation Research Library. The second phase of this project is ongoing and Emma now sits on the advisory panel for the Disney Animation Research Library. 

During her time at the GCI Emma was Co-Curator of the exhibition From Start to Finish: De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column, which opened at the J.Paul Getty Museum in 2011, and focused on the issues surrounding the making, conservation and display of this monumental polyester resin sculpture. This exhibition formed part of the region-wide Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 initiative.

Emma was actively involved in the European Union funded Seventh Framework Programme, POPART: Preservation Of Plastic ARTifacts in museum collections (2008-2012). This project brought together the expertise and facilities of eleven academic and museum institutions, enabling interdisciplinary collaboration and research. Its results have been wide reaching and have highlighted the benefit of such research grants. As such Emma is enthusiastic to hear from potential collaborators who are interested in cross-disciplinary research.

Vladimir Vilde: 
Comparison of Painting Lining Methods for Historic House Environments
SEAHA Collaborative PhD Studentship 
(Heritage Supervisor: Dr David Thickett, English Heritage and Industrial Supervisor: Dr Dave Hollis, LAVision)

Stefani Kavda: 
Conservation of Plastics in Art and Design: Establishing Cleaning Approaches 
UCL Qatar Collaborative Studenship
(Co-supervisor: Dr Voula Golfomitsou)

Dr Lora Angelova, Newton International Fellow, The Royal Society
Gel Cleaning: What is Happening at the Interface? 

Teaching Summary
Since joining UCL in September 2012 I have developed, taught and examined five undergraduate courses at all levels:

Science for Art Historians (1st year course)

Methods and Materials of Artists I (1st year course)
Methods and Materials of Artists II (2nd year course)
History and Theory of Conservation (2nd year course)
History and Technology of Fibres and Textiles (2nd/3rd year course)

From 2017/18 onwards I will also deliver a module as part of the Department of Chemistry's new Masters in Analytical Chemistry:

Analytical Strategies for Works of Art (MSc in Analytical Chemistry)

I have also supervised a number of undergraduate and masters level dissertations, as well as delivering lectures on Objects and Materiality for the Masters in History of Art core course. I am also visiting lecturer for the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums, Institute of Archaeology.

Academic Background
2014 Prof_Cert Professional Certification – Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Institute of Education
2009 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Analytical Chemistry University of Southampton
2004 MSc Master of Science – Analytical Chemistry Sheffield Hallam University
2001 BA Hons Bachelor of Arts (Honours) – Conservation of Works of Art De Montfort University
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