Historic Preservation

George Wheeler

Ph.D.

Lecturer

George Wheeler is former Director of Conservation in the graduate Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University following a distinguished 25-year career in the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he continues to serve as a Senior Research Scholar. He is currently the Senior Scientist for Highbridge Materials Consulting. Dr. Wheeler is a leading expert in stone conservation and has published over 50 scholarly articles, chapters in books, and co-edited several volumes including two for the Materials Research Society on Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology. His book, Alkoxysilanes and the Consolidation Stone, was published by the J.P. Getty Trust in 2005.

He received a BA in art history with concentrations in mathematics and physics from Muhlenberg College, an MA in art history from the City University of New York, an MS in art conservation from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center, and an M.S., and Ph.D. in chemistry also from NYU. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, the American Institute for Conservation, and the International Institute for Conservation.

Dr. Wheeler is the only alumni in Muhlenberg’s history to receive the much coveted Rome Prize and in November 2016 received the Harley J. McKee Award – the highest award of the Association for Preservation Technology. In September 2017, he also received an Alumni Achievement Award from Muhlenberg College.

Recent projects include the conservation of Cleopatra’s Needle – the Egyptian obelisk in Central Park, New York City, serving as the conservation science advisor for new Master Plan for the Alamo and as the chief scientific advisor for the conservation the Renaissance artist Tullio Lombardo’s Carrara marble sculpture of Adam. He and his colleagues at the Metropolitan Museum are currently writing a book on this project entitled – Lessons from Eden: What Tullio Lombardo’s Adam Teaches Us about Sculpture Conservation. He received a publication award from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to support this work and is one of only two scholars in the history of the award to receive it twice.

Dr. Wheeler also serves as conservation and science advisor for the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, for the outdoor sculpture collection of New York University’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, and for the fabrication of stone sculpture for the artist Jeff Koons.

In the fall 2018 semester, Dr. Wheeler will co-teach Conservation Seminar: Masonry (HSPV 739-301) with lecturer Roy Ingraffia.

Education

1987 Ph.D. Chemistry, New York University
1982 M.S. Chemistry, New York University
1981 M.S. Art Conservation, Conservation Center, IFA, New York University
1980 M.A. Art History, Hunter College, CUNY
1975 B.A. Art History & Minors in Physics & Mathematics, Muhlenberg College

Professional Experience

2004-2017
Director of Conservation
Historic Preservation Program
Graduate School of Architecture Planning & Preservation, Columbia University

1989-2006
Research Scientist
Departments of Scientific Research & Objects Conservation
Metropolitan Museum of Art

1985-1988
Associate Chemist
Department of Objects Conservation
Metropolitan Museum of Art

1984-1985
Associate Conservator
Department of Objects Conservation
Metropolitan Museum of Art

1982-1983
Assistant Conservator
Department of Objects Conservation
Metropolitan Museum of Art

1981-1982
Conservation Assistant
Department of Objects Conservation
Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Awards

2017 Alumni Achievement Award, Muhlenberg College
2016 Association for Preservation Technology, Harley J. McKee Award
1997 Rome Prize

Professional Affiliations

American Academy in Rome, Fellow
American Institute for Conservation, Fellow
Association for Preservation Technology, Member
International Institute for Conservation, Fellow

Professional Service

2017 Getty Conservation Institute, Advisory Group, Built Heritage Research Initiative

2016, 2007 American Academy in Rome, Rome Prize Juror 

2009-2015 American Institute for Conservation, Education and Training Committee

2007 Columbia University, Historic Preservation Program, Chair, Curriculum Review Committee

2007 New York University, Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center, Curriculum Review Committee

2005-2015 World Monuments Fund, Conservation Advisory Committee, St. Trophime Cloister, Arles, France

2000-2012 International Congress on Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, Permanent Scientific Committee

1995-1997 Shaker Museum and Library, Old Chatham, NY, Board of Directors

1993-2000 International Auschwitz Council, Conservation Subcommittee

1991-1994 National Institute for Conservation, Save Our Sculpture Advisory Committee

1991-1994 Metropolitan Museum of Art, Buildings Committee

1991-1994 Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grants Committee

1989-1990 Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chair, Curatorial Forum

1988-1995 St. Ann’s Center for Restoration and the Arts, Sandstone Conservation Committee

1982-2002 New York City, Art Commission, Conservation Advisory Committee