Ellen Pearlstein
Principal Investigator

My name is Ellen Pearlstein, and since 2005 I have been a professor of Conservation and Information Studies at UCLA. I was born in Brooklyn NY, and I spent 25 years working as an objects conservator at the Brooklyn Museum, my childhood museum. I also taught at my graduate alma mater, the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts for more than 10 years. At the Brooklyn Museum, I fell in love with African, American Indian and Pacific Islander art, and I treasure the experiences I had treating featherwork from all over Native America, serving on the committee for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), and meeting with communities during NAGPRA visits. Through my love for heritage from cultures outside of my own, I was moved to question why the field of cultural heritage conservation is not more representative. This led to my successful proposals to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding in support of the Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation. This highly mentored and fully funded introductory workshop, and 10 week internship opportunity, are designed to eliminate the social and economic obstacles that underrepresented students face when pursuing conservation graduate education.

Bianca Garcia
Program Manager

My name is Bianca Garcia and I am the Program Manager for the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation. I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and discovered a love for art conservation while in high school. This led me to the University of Delaware where I received a BA in Art Conservation and a Minor in Art History. My various internships informed my passion for paintings conservation and taught me that every object holds a life story, from its creation to its present condition and all its caretakers along the way. It is this intangible component that I seek to discover in every treatment. I received my MSc in Paintings Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and currently work at the Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego, CA, as Assistant Conservator of Paintings. I first became involved with the Mellon Diversity Program in 2018 as an invited instructor and soon after became Program Manager. My experiences working in different institutions and parts of the country have taught me about the diversity of people and experiences other than my own. My own personal path as an immigrant and Latina conservator allowed me to recognize the importance of this program and the need for mentorship opportunities as we seek to increase diversity in the field of conservation.

Nicole Passerotti
Program Associate

My name is Nicole Passerotti and I’m the Program Associate for the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation. As an objects conservator I’ve had the opportunity to work with indigenous and archaeological collections, as well as decorative, modern, and fine art. I’ve collaborated with artists, scientists, curators, and community stakeholders in labs in the U.S., England, Mexico, and Turkey. Along the way I’ve learned to approach objects, individuals, cultures, and values with curiosity, care, and respect. Throughout my career I’ve worked to encourage more diverse practices and practitioners in conservation. As a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, I helped to establish a partnership between the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, NY and the nearby SUNY Buffalo State Art Conservation program, where I earned my M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Study. Recently I worked with the Native North American collection at the Field Museum in Chicago. I was also a program assistant for Untold Stories in 2019. There is a clear need to diversify our voices in order to be a more inclusive and equitable profession. I’m thrilled to be part of this program to expand the voices, expertise, and stories of underrepresented students in our field.

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