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February 8, 2011

Museum Professional Explains How Preventive Conservation Allows Guests to Continue Learning from the Past

Patricia Silence, conservator of museum exhibitions and historic interiors, explores how preventive conservation care is used in Colonial Williamsburg’s collection to fight the agents of decay including light, moisture, pollutants and even the human touch during “Preserving the Future: Colonial Williamsburg’s Collection Care.” The program discusses practical methods of preserving our cultural heritage including objects like an 18th-century gown or a historic building at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

Silence supervises and develops the preventive conservation program with help from a team of custodians, aides and technicians specializing in collections care.

An apprentice-trained conservator, Silence has a background in fiber arts, earning a bachelor’s degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. Her conservation career began in 1984 at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. In 1994, she joined the current American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Mass. Her expertise with textiles, conservation work on many types of objects and practical construction experience assists her as she works to prevent damage to the wide range of Colonial Williamsburg’s collections.

With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Silence lectures and contributes articles on preventive conservation, “sustainable” collections care and environmental guidelines. She is a member of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), and chairman of AIC’s Committee on Sustainable Conservation Practice.

This is the second in a series of lectures on Colonial Williamsburg’s museums, collections and conservation that will be held through December 2011. Matt Webster, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of historic architectural resources, discusses the history, preservation efforts and new research at Drayton Hall, the 1738 Charleston, S.C., plantation at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket, museum pass or Good Neighbor Card provides access to this lecture.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, with more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum exhibits the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670–1830.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday through March 13. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121