Donald C. Williams
Senior Furniture Conservator
E-mail Address: WilliamsD [at] si.edu
Museum Conservation Institute
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746
Technology of Artistic and Historic Objects (interdisciplinary triple major in chemistry, studio art, and art history), University of Delaware, B.A. (1985). This degree is now re-titled "Bachelor's Degree in Art Conservation."
Architecture, University of Florida (1977-8)
Political Science/Economic History, Florida Atlantic Unversity (1972-4)
Research Specialties and Interests
- Furniture finishes and colorants
Senior Furniture Conservator/Coordinator of Education and Training, Museum Conservation Institute (prev. SCMRE/CAL), Smithsonian Institution (1984 - present).
Private conservation practice for institutional and private clients (1982 to present)
Metal Objects Conservation Assistant, Winterthur Museum, (1982-4)
Patternmaker, Maddox Foundry and Machine Works, Archer FL (1978-81)
Colonial Woodworking (restoration and reproductions), Archer FL (1978-81)
Restorer/Finisher, Schindler & Son, West Palm Beach FL (1974-1977, 1978)
Piano and Clock Restorer, R.A. Wiegert & Co., Gainesville FL (1977-1978)
Executive Committee, Society of American Period Furniture Makers, 2010 - .
Curatorial Advisory Committee, United States Senate, appointed 2009 - .
Early American Industries Association, current.
Collections Advisory Board, Dumbarton House, Washington DC. Since 1995.
Advisory Board, American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, 1986 – 1994.
Chair, Wooden Artifacts Group, American Institute for Conservation, 1988 – 1992.
“Flexible Gap Filling Adhesives for Wood.” Chapter in Challenges of Conserving Panel Paintings. Marina del Rey CA: J. Paul Getty Trust, 2011.
“Selecting Adhesives for Conserving Furniture.” Chapter in Adhesives for Conservation. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute, 2011.
“Minimally Intrusive Upholstery for a Victorian Barrel Backed Chair,” (w/ M. Pagan), 2009 Proceedings of the Wooden Artifacts Group. Washington DC; American Institute for Conservation, 2011.
“Tools and Techniques of the Shell and Horn-working Trades;” hopefully for The Chronicle (Journal of the Early American Industries Association). 2011
To Make As Perfectly As Possible: Marquetry (annotated translation of L’Art du Menuisier by J.A. Roubo), w/M. Pagan and P. Lafargue. Fort Campbell KY; Lost Art Press, December 2011.
“Tools and Techniques of the Foundry Patternmaking Trades;” hopefully for The Chronicle (Journal of the Early American Industries Association). 2012
A Historic Finisher’s Manual. Fort Campbell KY; Society of American Period Furniture Makers/Lost Art Press, 2012.
“Replicating the Chairs of Samuel Gragg;”hopefullyfor American Period Furniture 2012 (Journal of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers).
To Make As Perfectly As Possible: Furniture Making (annotated translation of L’Art du Menuisier by J.A. Roubo) w/M. Pagan and P. Lafargue. Fort Campbell KY; Lost Art Press, 2013.
Reisener’s Legacy furniture restoration mystery/thriller novel, unfinished.
“What color is the sky on their home planet?: Collaborations with the mass media;” 2008 Proceedings of the Wooden Artifacts Group. Washington DC; American Institute for Conservation, 2010.
“Historic Japanning;” American Period Furniture 2009 (Journal of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers).
“Reading Tool Marks;” The Chronicle (Journal of the Early American Industries Association), September 2008.
“Traditional Oil-Resin Varnishes.” Woodshop News, July 2008.
“Six Rules for Perfect Finishing,” Woodshop News, September 2007.
“Minimally Intrusive Upholstery at the U.S. House of Representatives” (w/ D. Blanchard and M. Mascelli). 2006 Proceedings of the Wooden Artifacts Group. Washington DC; American Institute for Conservation, 2007.
Homekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart; Clarkson Potter, 2006. Approx. eight pages of direct contributions, unattributed.
Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions; Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 2005.
“Preserving and Restoring Furniture Finishes.” 13,000 word treatise for the SCMRE website, 2003.
“Tortoiseshell and Imitation Tortoiseshell.” Proceedings of the Sixth Rijksmuseum Conference on Furniture. Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum, 2003.
“Natural Resins for Traditional Finishing.” Professional Refinisher, September/October 1999.
“Finding Common Ground: Refinishers and Conservators.” Professional Refinisher, April/May 1999.
"Adhesives in Wood Conservation." In The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings. Marina del Rey CA: Getty Conservation Institute;1998.
Furniture Care and Maintenance. Washington D.C.: Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution; 1996.
Downstate, a mystery/thriller novel, 1995. Completed but unpublished.
“The Past and Future History of Natural Resins as Coating Materials;” in Resins Ancient and Modern. Edinburgh: Scottish Society for Restoration and Conservation; 1995.
"Conservation of an Eighteenth Century English Japanned Surface" (with M. Wachowiak and W. Lewin). Proceedings of the UKIC Japanning Conference. London, UKIC, December 1994.
“A Portable Bench for Restoration." In Papers Presented at the Wooden Artifacts Group, Denver 1993. Washington DC: American Institute for Conservation, 1993.
"Conservation of Paintings on Plywood Supports" (with A. Creager). Chapter in Preserving the Twentieth Century. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute, 1992.
"Shellac Finishing." Fine Woodworking, June, 1988.
"Abrasiveness of Packing Materials - A Preliminary Research Project Report" (with M. Baker). Papers Presented at the Wooden Artifacts Group, 1988.
"Solvents and Solutions ." Wood Finisher, Fall, 1987 and Winter, 1988.
"Furniture Conservation - Finishes." Wood Finisher, Spring, 1987and Winter, 1987.
"The Technology and Conservation Treatment of a Nineteenth-Century Papier Mache Chair" (with D. van der Reyden). AIC Preprints, 1986.
"Furniture Conservation and Private Collections - Fine Art and Finances." Unpublished manuscript for private distribution, 1985.
Presentations, Public Relations, and Teaching
More than 300 public and professional lectures, television and radio appearances, newspaper and magazine articles (featured in); scores of teaching workshops and courses on conservation of artifacts and historic craft technologies. Notable items include:
Saving Treasures: Photographs. Smithsonian/Showtime 30-minute pilot.
The Mace of the U.S. House of Representatives. 20-minute section of the C-SPAN documentary “The Capitol.”