Kay Soderlund

I have worked as a paper conservator since 1982. Since I was four I have been collecting objects and materials that document my life, and I have always been entranced with how objects can tell stories and trigger memories – along with the physical beauty of ‘old things’.

I fell in love with paper when I first started studying conservation at the University of Canberra in 1980. After graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in the Conservation of Cultural Material, I did the rounds of major collecting institutions, working on a variety of collections – and headed up the project to conserve the Journals of the First Fleet at the State Library of New South Wales for the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations.

In 1992, having recognised the role preventive conservation would play in the preservation of collections, I studied Preventive Conservation with the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, USA. This course laid the groundwork for the strong preventive conservation basis of a lot of our work at Preservation Australia.

I have always worked mainly in private conservation because I enjoy the variety offered – both of collection material and people! – and believe that everyone should have access to professional conservation.  Over the years I have established several different businesses, and also worked for a few years with Museums Australia (NSW) – initially as Conservation Outreach Officer and then as Director. This period cemented my enthusiasm for working with the community museum sector – which continues to this day.

In 2000 I authored ‘Be Prepared: Guidelines for Small Museums for Writing a Disaster Preparedness Plan’, written for the Heritage Collections Council – and developed the training package for industry service providers based on ‘Be Prepared’. Both the manual and the training package are available on the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material website – www.aiccm.org.au

I established Preservation Australia, and then added Conservation Resources (archival product side of the business), to provide a single point of contact for all preservation and conservation requirements – and I believe it serves its purpose well!