Melvin J. Wachowiak, Jr.

Senior Conservator



Museum Conservation Institute
Smithsonian Institution
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746


B.S. Springfield College (1981)
M.S., Art Conservation, Joined Wooden Objects Major, University of Delaware, Winterthur Museum, Art Conservation Program (1989)

Research Specialties and Interests

I am a conservator, and as such I have a broad interest in the preservation, documentation, analysis and enhancement of collections. While my training is in wooden objects such as furniture, I have worked with many types of collection material. This has included furniture and other wooden objects, paintings, sculpture, and modern materials such as historic aircraft.

Recent Research Activities

I am currently involved in imaging for research and documentation. This includes digital photography, microscopy, and other computational methods. We are beginning to explore 3D scanning and multispectral imaging for cultural heritage applications.

Courses Taught

1995-2001 Director of Furniture Conservation Training Program, Smithsonian Institution
1989-1994 Instructor in Furniture Conservation Training Program, Smithsonian Institution
1989-1991 Instructor of Wood Science, University of Delaware/ Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Program, Newark and Winterthur, Delaware

Professional Activities

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), Professional Associate

Awards, Honors and Special Recognitions

United States Patents
December 5, 2000 Wax Emulsion Polish (Patent Number 6156108) formulated for high gloss and for ease of use by broad consumer market.
February 27, 2001 Wax-resin Polish (Patent Number 6258882) water-free formula for maximum protection and superior treatment of surfaces, especially historic and chemically sensitive.

Recent Publications

“3D Scanning and Replication for Museum and Cultural Heritage Applications.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. Vol. 48 (2009): 141-158

Wachowiak, Basiliki Vicky Karas and Robert E. Baltrusch “Reconstruction of a Nineteenth Century Plaster Piece Mold and Recreation of a Casting” Computer Applications to Archaeology 2009. In review

“Efficient new methods for embedding samples for microscopy.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. Vol. 43 (2004):205–226

“Routine and high-volume preparation of embedded coatings cross-sections.” Microscope vol. 50:4 147-153. 2002.

Wachowiak, M,J. and K. Muñoz-Alcocer. "Imaginería de Las Californias: Discovering our Past through Mission Sculpture," SMRC (Southwestern Mission Research Center) Revista, vol. 37, no. 135, pp. 12-16 (Summer 2003).

"Microscopy of protective and decorative coatings." CD-ROM. Suitland, MD: Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education, 2002.

Microscopy of Protective & Decorative Coatings. (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution) Course manual. 2001.

Grissom, C.A., Charola, A.E., Wachowiak, M.J. Measuring Surface Roughness on Stone: Back to Basics Studies in Conservation 45 pp73-84. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 2000).