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Getty Conservation Institute appoints Thomas J.S. Learner as Head of Science

The Getty Conservation Institute announced the appointment of Thomas J.S. Learner as Head of Science, effective January 6, 2014.

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts, including objects, collections, architecture, and sites, and serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the broad dissemination of the results of both its own work and the work of others in the field.

Reporting to GCI Associate Director Jeanne Marie Teutonico, Learner will provide leadership and vision for the Science department, including the development and implementation of future projects. He will manage the department’s staff and budget, forge partnerships with outside institutions, and represent the GCI in the international conservation community.

For the last seven years, Learner has served as a Senior Scientist at the GCI, leading the Modern and Contemporary Art Research initiative. During his tenure, he has managed the GCI’s ambitious international research agenda related to the conservation of modern paints, plastics, and contemporary outdoor sculpture, and successfully collaborated with international colleagues on a number of high-profile projects, including analysis and conservation work on De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column, which became a focused exhibition at the Getty Museum as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.

More recently, Learner has been collaborating with the Getty Museum on the ongoing study and conservation of Jackson Pollock’s landmark painting Mural, which will be on view at the Getty Center in March 2014, in addition to co-authoring a publication on new research insights into the artwork.

In his new position, Learner will oversee the wide-ranging activities of the GCI Science department whose current work involves not only the conservation of modern and contemporary art, but also includes research related to photography, Asian and European lacquers, Athenian pottery, museum lighting, and the conservation of lifted mosaics.

Prior to his arrival at the GCI, Learner served as a Senior Conservation Scientist at Tate, London, where he developed Tate’s analytical and research strategies for modern materials and led the Modern Paints project in collaboration with the GCI and National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. During this period, Tom also was a 2001 Conservation Guest Scholar in residence at the GCI.
Learner is both a chemist and a conservator, with a PhD in Chemistry from Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Diploma in Conservation of Easel Paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art.