About Us

Our Mission

Conservation Strategies provides quality consulting and contracting for the preservation of cultural heritage including art, architecture, and archaeology. We provide customized conservation services ranging from small objects, to collections, to larger and complex historic buildings and sites. We build teams of specialists to best fit each project. We are extremely safety conscious and provide all requisite training and certifications in compliance with OSHA and other regulatory requirements. We believe in sustainable approaches to conservation that minimize environmental impact while still providing feasible and cost effective solutions for preservation.

 

Our Clients

Museums, municipalities, state park agencies, National Parks Service, General Services Administration and other federal agencies, architects, archaeologists, collections managers, collectors, and individuals.

 

 

“I highly recommend Katharine! She brings a depth of knowledge and experience as a conservator and a friendly problem-solving approach. I am always pleased with the variety of options she suggests, explained with all the pros and cons, as well as the detailed written reports that make documentation and sharing information with artists and contractors straightforward and clear.”

Beth Tobey

Arts Program Manager, City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Office

“I worked with Katharine on the conservation treatment of twelve sculptures mounted on the exterior ledge of a high-rise in San Francisco. The project required a conservator who was experienced on buildings and outdoor sculptures made of FRP, and qualified with all applicable safety certifications to work from suspended scaffolding twenty-three stories above ground. Katharine was perfect for the job, and was able to bring her cross-disciplinary experience to bear in a way that expedited the restoration work.”

Andrew S. Weber

AIA NCARB, Principal, Senior Consultant Facilities, Terracon

“Conservation Strategies is aptly named. Katharine takes a team approach and knows how to solve problems. If you are looking for someone with an academic and experienced background in collections, archaeological and built heritage conservation that includes dynamic project management, I highly recommend her. What always tipped the scale for me, and the proposal evaluation committees, was the proven project management and team building aspects. I worked with Katharine over a ten year period on various projects. Bottom line? She made my job easier, and the outcome was always first rate.”

Linda Cooper

District Curator, Californian State Parks

“Katharine was readily accessible throughout projects, was efficient and disciplined, and stayed within the budget and scope.  Her diverse conservation background is impressive and she readily included other conservators and subcontractors with specific disciplines as needed.

On our historic cemetery project, it would have been a challenge to match her skill at piecing together a grave marker broken by vandalism into small bits and pieces scattered throughout the site. This was likely attributable to Katharine’s additional archeological conservation background. At one point the crew stopped in their tracks at the sight of a completed grave marker from the scattered fragments found all over the site!

Katharine’s humor was also very welcome during some tough, hot days and she beautifully managed all the little unexpected site issues that inevitably pop up during a project.”

Linda Cooper

District Curator, Californian State Parks

“I had the opportunity to work with Katharine on several public arts projects for public agencies and private real estate developers. I am very pleased with her work and especially appreciate her knowledge of architecture, general contracting, and the conservation field including highly technical and ever-changing industry information, sensitivity to the needs of the client, respect for the artist, and her well written and organized supporting documents. Early design reviews, and preservation  and maintenance planning, are critical to clients who need to preserve civic and corporate assets. Katharine is a great and necessary addition to any team.”

Helene Fried

Helene Fried Associates, Cultural Arts Planning and Public Art

"Katharine is an intelligent, thoughtful, experienced conservator.  Her highly developed analytical skills and superior critical thinking abilities allow her to create and implement ground-breaking and pragmatic solutions to material preservation challenges.  Katharine is a valuable asset to any project team.  Her participation ensures adequate planning and preparation resulting in smoothly run, timely, on-budget project completion.  Clear, concise documentation of her research, analytical approach, and treatment methods contributes to long term preservation.  She is professional, friendly and generous with her knowledge."

Carol Marie Daniels

Retired Project Manager, San Francisco Arts Commission

Katharine Untch, MA, CAS

Principal Conservator

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Katharine Untch, MA, CAS, is an award-winning conservator with more than 30 years’ experience in three-dimensional art, architectural and archaeological materials, specializing in conservation strategies, management, and funding. She provides project management, materials research, testing and analysis, treatment design, and hands-on applications. Katharine brings a strong knowledge of chemistry and materials science to all of her projects, along with the impact of materials on cultural heritage and the environment.

Katharine has extensive experience with collections, outdoor sculpture, monuments, and architectural elements as well as a variety of materials in both interior and exterior contexts. She has over 15 years' experience as a museum conservator, over 8 seasons on archaeological sites, and over 15 years in the built heritage arena preserving architecture, historic sites, and monuments. Her diverse experience provides her with a uniquely broad perspective.

Katharine has held positions as Mellon Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Graduate Intern at the Getty Museum in Antiquities Conservation, Associate Conservator at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and Head of Objects Conservation at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Katharine was a Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) where she managed the first of the Director’s Retreats for leaders of national and international graduate conservation training programs, and managed the Museum Emergency Program in partnerships with ICOM, ICCROM, and the GCI. She was Senior Conservator at Architectural Resources Group (ARG) focusing on historic architecture, and Director of the Conservation Division of ARG Conservation Services, a design-build general contracting firm providing services for historic buildings, sites, monuments, and collections in historic buildings.

Katharine has taught workshops nationally and internationally on outdoor monument and sculpture conservation to mid-career conservators and collections managers. A Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), she served two terms as the first AIC Board Director of Professional Education and Training, conducted national surveys and co-authored an endowment grant proposal to the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) to help launch AIC’s continuing education program. She has also authored or co-authored many successful conservation project grants and has served as grant reviewer and panelist for several conservation-granting entities.

Awards

The California Preservation Foundation Design Award, Weaverville Joss House, Weaverville, California
The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, Individual Professional Development Award to attend mid-career workshop
The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, to attend conference on early metallurgy in China
The George Stout Memorial Fund Travel Grant, to attend the American Institute for Conservation annual meetings
The Samuel H. Kress Award, to work as a conservation trainee, American School of Classical Studies Minoan excavations, Crete, Greece
The Arts and Humanities Student Award, thesis research: A Comparative Study of Environmental Effects on Chemically Applied Patinas Used for Outdoor Bronzes

Affiliations

Current and former affiliations include:
American Institute for Conservation, Professional Associate and Fellow Member
Director, Professional Education, American Institute for Conservation Board
Program Chair, 1998 AIC Annual Meeting, “Disaster Mitigation, Response & Recovery,” Washington DC
Chair, AIC Task Force on Disaster Response and Liaison to National Task Force on Emergency
President, Bay Area Art Conservation Guild
Curriculum Advisory Committee, Campbell Center
Heritage Preservation
International Council of Museums
International Institute of Conservation, Committee for Conservation, Metals Working Group, Science and Technology, Education and Training
Western Association of Art Conservators

Lectures & Workshops

Select lectures & workshops include:
“Safety & Etiquette in Design and Construction Roles,” American Institute for Conservation Annual Meeting
“Glitz and Glam: Theatrics in the Historical Finishes of Timothy L. Pflueger,” Third International Paint Research Conference, Columbia University, New York
“Documentation Synthesis of the Watts Towers,” Western Association for Art Conservation
“Adhesives for Conservators” and “Business & Management Practices for Conservators,” Program Development, American Institute for Conservation
“Careers in Museums,” panelist, Pomona College
“Conservation on a Budget,” panelist, Virginia Association of Museums
“Treasures of Deceit, Archaeology and Forger’s Craft,” panelist, exhibition forum at Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
“Preventive Conservation,” public course, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
“Asian Art Conservation,” teachers course, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
“Fundraising for Collections Care,” symposium co-sponsored by the National Institute for Conservation and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Publications

“The Emergency Management Cycle,” in Health and Safety for Museum Professionals, chapter 14, 2009
Glitz and Glam: Theatrics in the Historical Finishes of Timothy L. Pflueger,” Third International Paint Research Conference, Columbia University, New York, January 2008
“Managing Conservation without a Conservator on Staff”, Collections: a journal for museum and archives professionals, Alta Mira Press, Vol 2 No. 3, February 2006
“Technical Studies,” The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2001
“Conservation Corner,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Calendar, 1997
American Institute for Conservation Newsletter, Computer Users Update Column, Founding Editor, 1991-1993
“Computers for Conservators, The Second Wave,” An Introduction to Computer Imaging for Art Conservators, International Institute for Conservation, Canadian Group Annual Meeting Workshop, 1993
“Beauty, Wealth, and Power: Jewels and Ornaments of Asia,” Co-author with Abby Hykin, Tryptich, a quarterly publication of The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 63 (1992): 26–30