Preserving our Heritage
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West shares the authentic American West to life through the stories we tell and the objects we exhibit—objects we care for through our conservation program. The objects give visitors a glimpse into life in the West—past, present, and future—lending the weight of authenticity, accuracy, and truth. They are the real thing, and, as such, it is our responsibility to care for them, not only for our children and grandchildren, but beyond. Our conservation mission doesn’t stop there: We provide training and support to institutions throughout Wyoming and to conservation students from around the United States.
Three-fold mission of the conservation department
Conservation of the Center’s collections
Our conservator, Beverly Perkins (MA, CAS), examines, documents, treats, and performs preventive care for all the Center’s collections and helps protect the collections while on exhibit, in storage, in transit, and on loan.
Conservation of collections includes cleaning, stabilization, and restoration where necessary. Staff education is critical to successful conservation, and the conservator encourages informal staff visits and questions in addition to formal training. Perkins works with curators to ensure that treatments are accurate and proper for each collection. The collections are continuously monitored and reviewed whether on exhibit or in storage. All conservation work is performed according to the code of ethics of the American Institute for Conservation.
Training new professionals
The conservator is committed to providing critical hands-on training to a wide range of students. Perkins trains several interns each year, including artists interested in conservation as a museum profession, university students gaining experience necessary to enroll in a conservation master’s degree program, and advanced students already enrolled in a such a program. Watch the video at right to see some of our state-of-the-art equipment in action. Click here to to learn more about our Conservation Residency program.
Statewide and regional training and support
Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Wyoming Statewide Connecting to Collections Project was launched. Project organizers began by conducting symposia in five regions of Wyoming, and they continue to bring professionals from museums, libraries, historical societies, and other collecting institutions together to form interactive networks. Along with training at each symposium, plans were written for projects that will help alleviate problems faced by Wyoming’s collecting institutions. The Center’s grants administrator and conservator continue to seek funding to carry out these projects.
Perkins also provides pro bono conservation services for collecting institutions in the underserved mountain-plains region of the United States.
Beverly Nadeen Perkins
Our conservation internship program is led by Beverly Nadeen Perkins. A graduate of the Cooperstown (now Buffalo) program in conservation, Perkins is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation and a Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation. She is a certified AIC-CERT emergency responder for cultural institutions. She coordinated the AIC volunteer response to Hurricane Katrina, as well as participated on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina, and most recently in Haiti.
Perkins serves on the board of the Western Association for Art Conservation and the board of the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums. She is currently the Chief Conservator at the Center of the West and adjunct faculty in Art History at Northwest College. She served as the NEH Western Field Service Officer and as the coordinator of the IMLS Connecting to Collections Planning Project for Wyoming. Perkins has lectured extensively on disaster recovery for museum collections, collections care topics, and conservation issues. She has worked as a conservator for large institutions such as Winterthur Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, and has carried out more than fifty surveys of collecting institutions of all sizes. Perkins is on the board of Heritage Preservation, the Smithsonian Affiliate Advisory Committee, and the Buffalo Bill Art Show Committee.