About NWOC

Tom Fuller, Objects Conservator

Tom Fuller Tom's interest in conservation began with his BA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. He received his Diploma in Conservation in 1976 from the Institute of Archaeology, London. He has been an excavation conservator in Italy, Greece, Libya, Iraq, and Turkey. Much of his professional life was spent in Philadelphia, PA, and the Penn Museum remains a frequent client.

In 1990, Tom relocated to Corvallis, OR where he likes to work in his own lab, though he continues to do on-site work as well. He travels nationally to do his work on institutional and private collections. He works with archaeological and ethnographic materials, historical collections, scientific instruments, natural science collections, and sculpture.

Conservation is an eclectic field, and Tom likes to work with owners, colleagues, and other specialists in order to provide the best possible outcome for objects entrusted to him.

The Corvallis location

The Corvallis location The Corvallis location offers a flexible and well equipped objects lab, with library, office, and workspace. There is ample space and access, moving and lifting equipment, good lighting and electrical service, a de-ionized water source, and a wide range of equipment and materials. Examination and documentation equipment includes cameras, microscopes, computers, and alternative light sources. Chemical spot testing can be done when needed. Seen here are heavy, standing height, padded work tables, a stereo-binocular microscope with light source, clamps and small tools, overhead electrical service, part of the technical library and office, framed awards and posters of exhibits Tom has worked on, and the edge of a gasketed, 10' x 10' garage style door for the entry of large objects such as the King George III table seen on the back table.

Goings on in the Shop

Goings on in the Shop This archaeological Peruvian ceramic was photographed with a digital camera using special lens filters to enhance its fluorescence when exposed to a long wave ultraviolet light source and viewed in a darkened room. This process helps a viewer characterize materials and features of the pot which are not necessarily readily apparent in ordinary, visible light. The technique offers a non-invasive, relatively low-tech scientific method especially helpful in locating and determining the full extent of old, undocumented previous repairs and restorations. In this case, obvious repairs include the two light colored plaster repair spouts and the orange shellac used over the repair at the base. Orange spots elsewhere are also shellac, one of the natural resins and the only one to fluoresce this particular orange under ultraviolet light.

Goings on in the shop Tom is beginning treatment on this fragile ethnographic piece by brushing away insect debris and other particulates. This Chokwe chair from equatorial West Africa is structurally unstable from insect attack, shrinkage of its leopard skin seat, and several attempts at repair. Some of these repairs clearly were made while the seat was still in use, while other repairs seem to have been made later, after collection. Tom has already used freezing to eradicate any insect infestation and now must strike a balance in changing possibly in-use, "ethnographic," repairs in order to render the object stable enough for handling and display.

"A conservator is a specialist who takes care of art or artifacts, ensuring that they are preserved in the best possible condition for present and future appreciations" -- Lynn A. Grant