Historic Preservation

Posted February 27, 2015
  • Susan Macdonald lectures at PennDesign

  • Conservation Conversations at the Architectural Archives

  • The Eames House © Getty Conservation Institute

Susan MacDonald Speaks at Penn on Modern Heritage

'Somewhere Between History and Current Events'

The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation had the pleasure of hosting two events with Susan Macdonald, Head of Field Projects at the Getty Conservation Institute, this week. Macdonald's lecture Thursday evening in the Upper Gallery focused on the particular problems of conserving modern architecture. Macdonald and the GCI have been studying the unique issues of use and deterioration that modern buildings face, and how the field of conservation must approach these new projects. Through case studies on the Eames House and the Salk Institute, both current field projects at the Getty, Macdonald explained the conservation methodology applied to modern architecture, and addressed questions about materiality, significance, and living memory in conservation. View a video of Susan Macdonald's lecture, 'Somewhere Between History and Current Events: Conserving Modern Heritage' here.

Friday afternoon, Macdonald was gracious enough to stay for a less formal discussion about her work and studies. A Conservation Conversation was held in the Architectural Archives, where Bill Whitaker, Michael Henry, and Frank Matero joined Macdonald in leading a discussion about modern heritage and conservation. Many students, faculty, and professionals were in attendance, and the conversation explored many aspects of conservation. The GCI's Colloquium to Advance the Practice of Conserving Modern Heritage, framed the discussion. Questions about unique modern material resiliency, educating the public on modern heritage, and choosing what to be protected were a few of the topics explored. Conservation Conversations is a seminar series organized by the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and the Architectural Conservation Laboratory of the School of Design to showcase recent research in the history, theory and professional practice of architectural conservation worldwide.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear from Susan Macdonald, and her experience in the issues that the field of conservation is facing right now. As a leading figure in the world of conserving modernity, Macdonald's discussion about her research and experience were invaluable and informative. The interest in her work was demonstrated through the excellent turnout at both events.

For more information on talks and lectures, see the events calendar here.

Susan Macdonald joined the Getty Conservation Institute in 2008 as Head of Field Projects where she manages the Department dedicated to advancing conservation practice. Susan has a Bsc (Architecture) and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Sydney, and a Masters in Conservation Studies (University of York/ICCROM) and a certified practicing planner. Susan worked as a conservation architect in private practice and in the government sector in her native Australia and in London including at English Heritage. Susan moved to the Getty from her position as Director of the NSW Heritage Office in Australia. Susan oversees the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative at the Getty Conservation institute which includes the Conservation of the Eames House and the Conservation of Salk Biological Institute projects.