Harriet (Rae) F. Beaubien

Head of Conservation/Senior Objects Conservator


E-mail Address: BeaubienH [at] si.edu

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


B.A. in Art (cum laude), Beloit College (1972)
M.A. in the History of Art, University of Chicago (1976)
M.A./Certificate in Conservation (objects), New York University Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center(1986)

Research Specialties and Interests

Archaeological conservation – MCI program fostering the integration of conservation and archaeology, through collaborative research and technical studies of archaeological materials, on-site conservation assistance, and education, including specialized training for conservation fellows and interns, and for archaeological colleagues in classroom and field venues

Specialized training in conservation and analytical applications, for colleagues in allied fields, including (in addition to the above) law enforcement personnel dealing with prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural heritage materials

Field recovery and technical study of perishable materials, with a focus on Mesoamerican craft technologies

Recent Research Activities

History of goldworking in Pre-Columbian Panama – compositional analysis and fabrication study of gold and related metal objects from recent excavations and museum collections (Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama; National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC)

Documentation of deer stone monuments in Mongolia – enhanced technical and iconographic information about carved stone Bronze Age monoliths, using 3D scanning and other documentation

Painted organic objects from ancient Mesoamerica – elucidating a fugitive artifact type, focusing on field recovery, technical study and interpretation of remnant paint flake deposits

Ceramic laminate objects from ancient Mesoamerica – rediscovering a previously unknown artifact type, focusing on field recovery, conservation, technical study and interpretation of fragments, and collections-based research in Guatemala

Field Work Locations

Project conservator, conservation intern/fellow supervisor, field school instructor and research collaborator as part of archaeological field projects [field seasons indicated]:
El Caño Archaeological Project, Coclé Province and Panama City, Panama [2009]
Joint Mongolian-Smithsonian Deer Stone Project, Hovsgol aimag, Mongolia [2004-2007]
Khanuy Valley Project on Early Nomadic Pastoralism, Arkhangai aimag and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia [2005, 2006]
Panamá Viejo, Panama City [May 2006]            
El Perú/Waka′ Archaeological Project, Petén Dept., Guatemala [April 2006]
San Bartolo Archaeological Project, Petén Dept. and Antigua, Guatemala [2003-2005]
Gilund Archaeological Project, Pune, India [October 2004]
Aguateca Archaeological Project, Petén Dept. and Guatemala City, Guatemala [1998-2003]
Baking Pot Archaeological Project, Cayo District and San Ignacio, Belize [May 2003]      
Piedras Negras Archaeological Project, Guatemala City [2001-2002]     
Harappa Archaeological Research Project, Punjab, Pakistan [1988-1990, 1992-2001]
Copán Acropolis Archaeological Project, Copán Dept., Honduras [1990, 1993, 1995-2001]
Early Copán Acropolis Program, Copán Dept., Honduras [1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998]               
Çatalhöyük Archaeological Project, southern Anatolia, Turkey [August 1998]
Bluff Great House Project, Utah [June 1998]
Proyecto Arqueológico Joya de Cerén, La Libertad Dept. and San Salvador, El Salvador [1989-1994, 1996, 1997]
American Excavations at Palaiopolis, Samothrace, Greece [1986]
Harvard-Cornell Expedition to Sardis, Manisa Dept., Turkey [1984, 1985]
Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima, Israel [1980, 1982]

Courses Taught (excluding invitational lectures for courses)

Training coordinator, “Preventing Illicit Trafficking/Protecting Cultural Heritage,” workshops for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State’s Cultural Heritage Center [November 2009, March 2010 – on-going]

Adjunct faculty instructor/course organizer, “Archaeological conservation,” Art Conservation Department, Buffalo State College/SUNY (one-week session per semester, for graduate art conservation students) [Fall 2004—Spring 2007]

Instructor/course co-organizer, “Short course in archaeological field conservation,” Conservation Center/Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, NY (day-long instruction as part of annual week-long preparatory course for graduate art conservation students working on site) [2003-2008, 2010]     

Adjunct faculty instructor/course co-organizer, “Archaeology, Anthropology and Conservation,” Conservation Center/Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, NY – semester-long seminar, cross-listed in graduate anthropology, art history, and conservation departments [Fall 1996, Fall 2000]

Professional Activities (selected)

American Institute for Conservation (AIC): Professional Associate; Ethics and Standards Committee, and Commentaries Task Force member [Board of Directors committees, 1995-2000]
Society for American Archaeology (SAA): Member
Washington Conservation Guild: Member; Board of Directors member [1994-1995]

Awards, Honors and Special Recognitions

Fulbright lectureship in archaeological conservation: “Building Partnerships/Preserving Patrimony,” an educational consultancy in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica, administered through the Council for International Exchange of Scholars / US Department of State [1991]

Grants awarded:
Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Advanced Internship in Conservation [2007, 2009]: fellowships in archaeological conservation, at MCI 
Archaeological Conservation Program [1991-2007]: annual grants to support advanced internship participation in fieldwork

Smithsonian Institution
Scholarly Studies Grant Program [2008-10]:
Charles D. and Mary V. Walcott Endowment Fund [2006-07]: “Pre-Columbian Goldworking in Panama: illuminating its history, preserving its heritage”
Office of the Under Secretary for Science Endowment Fund [2005-06]: “Documenting Mongolia’s deer stones using 3D laser scanning technology”
Research Opportunity Fund [1994]: “Painted gourds recovered from the archaeological site of Cerén, El Salvador”

Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc.
Research grant program [2002-03]: “Textile-clay laminates, a special-use material from ancient Mesoamerica”

Recent Publications

Pohl, Christie M., Hodgins, Greg, Speakman, Robert Jeff and Beaubien, Harriet F. 2009. The Effect of Cyclododecane on Carbon-14 Dating of Archaeological Materials. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 48(3): 223-233.

Beaubien, H.F. 2008. Documentation of Mongolia's Deer Stones, 2007 Field Season. Arctic Studies Center Newsletter, 15: 30-31.

Beaubien, H.F. 2007. Laser scanning and documentation of Mongolia's Deer Stones. Part VIII. In: Fitzhugh, W.W. and Bayarsaikhan, J., American-Mongolian Deer Stone Project: Field Report 2007. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, pp.113-115.

Beaubien, H.F. 2007. Documentation of Mongolia's Deer Stones, 2007. Part IV. In: Fitzhugh, W.W. and Bayarsaikhan, J., American-Mongolian Deer Stone Project: Field Report 2007. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, pp.88-95.

Beaubien, H.F. and Weber, L.G. 2007. Archaeological conservation in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: 2006 field season. Part V. In: Fitzhugh, W.W., American-Mongolian Deer Stone Project: Field Report 2006. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, pp.84-96.

Beaubien, H.F. and Weber, L.G. 2007. Conservacion en el campo de los objetos organicos pintados del Entierro 24, Estructura O14-1. In: Escobedo, H.L. and Freidel, D.A., Proyecto Arqueologico El Peru-Waka': Informe No. 4, Temporada 2006. pp.

Beaubien, H.F., Karas, B.V. and Fitzhugh, W.W. 2007. Documenting Mongolia's Deer Stones: Application of Three-Dimensional Digital Imaging Technology to Preservation. Scientific Research on the Sculptural Arts of Asia.Proceedings of the Third Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art, : 133-142.

Beaubien, H.F., Karas, B.V. and Weber, L.G. 2007. Documentation of Mongolia's deer stones: 2006 field season. Part IV. In: Fitzhugh, W.W., American-Mongolian Deer Stone Project: Field Report 2006. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, pp.71-83.

Karas, Basiliki V. and Beaubien, Harriet F. 2007. 3D Scanning Mongolia's deer stones. Arctic Studies Center Newsletter Supplement (Chinggis Khaan: 800 Years of Mongolian Statehood), 14: 43-44.

Recent talks

“Burial offerings made of painted perishable materials,” in (symposium) Reconstructing histories and layers of meaning: Material analyses from El Perú-Waka', Society for American Archaeology 75th anniversary meeting, St. Louis, MO [April 15, 2010]
“Pre-Columbian goldworking in Panama: technical study of finds from Cerro Juan Díaz,” in (conference) Aurum 2009: authentication and analysis of gold work, sponsored by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France [May 12, 2009]
 “Imaging in 3 dimensions: conservation applications from Mongolia to the Mall,” in Recent trends in documentation – creating the new, accessing the old, 35th annual conference of the Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation,Buffalo, NY [April 25, 2009]
“Archaeological Conservation in Central America,” as part of Students’ Choice Seminar, Winterthur/Univ. of Delaware Program in Art Conservation [March 11, 2009]
 “Organics: condition issues, field recovery techniques, conservation in the field lab,” in Short course in archaeological field conservation, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York, NY [May 21 2008]