Robert J. Koestler

Director; Chief Scientist


Phone: 301-238-1205
Fax: 301-238-3709
E-mail Address: KoestlerR [at]

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


B.S. SUNY Stony Brook (1972)
M.A. CUNY Hunter College (1977)
M.Ph. CUNY City College (1983)
Ph.D. CUNY City College (1985)

Research Specialties and Interests

  • Conservation science
  • Collections preservation
  • Biodeterioration and biodegradation

Professional Activities

  • American Institute for Conservation (1996- Present)
  • ICOM-CC, Coordinator of Control of Biodeterioration Group (1993-1999)
  • International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Society (1985-Present)
  • Pan-American Biodeterioration Society (1985-1992)
  • Full member of the scientific research society Sigma X (1985-2002)

Awards, Honors and Special Recognitions

American Association of Museums, 2004 Museum Publications Design Competition: Honorable Mention in category D-books for “Art, Biology, and Conservation: Biodeterioration of Works of Art."

Entered in Who's Who in Science and Engineering 1993-94 and 1995-96 editions.

II Premio awarded by the Commune di Venezia and the Comitato Francese per Venezia in the "Campagna per il Mattone di Venezia" for work on "The Action of Salt-Water Solutions in the Deterioration of the Silico-Aluminate Matrix of Bricks".

Honorary Mention for the study "Physico-Chemical Examination of Aged Bricks and `Cotto' to Study the Mechanism of Alteration".
The two preceding awards were presented at the Ateneo Veneto, Venice, 29 October 1982.

Honorable Mention from the Friends of Mineralogy for the article "Minerals of the Buckwheat Dolomite, Franklin, New Jersey" in The Mineralogical Record, 1983.


Recent Publications

Charola, A. E. and Koestler, Robert J. (eds.) 2010. Pesticide mitigation in museum collections : science in conservation : proceedings from the MCI workshop series. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. (Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation; 1) 72 pages.

Tavzes, Č., Šilc, F., Kladnik, A., Fackler, K., Messner, K., Pohleven, F. and Koestler, R.J. 2009. Enzymatic degradation of mould stains on paper analysed by colorimetry and DRIFT-IR spectroscopy. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 63(7): 873-879.

Koestler, R.J., Koestler, V.R., Charola, A.E., and Nieto-Fernandez, F.E., (Eds.), 2003. Art, Biology, and Conservation: Biodeterioration of Works of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Yale University Press, New Haven. 576pp.


Selected Lectures and Other Activities

  • Chair of the “microorganisms in a subterranean environment” session at the symposium “Lascaux and preservation issues in a subterranean environment” (2009)
  • Scientific committee, and session chair, for 8th EU cultural heritage meets practice symposium, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2008)
  • ICCROM Observer for Smithsonian Institution (2007- )
  • Editor-in-Chief, International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation (2006-2016)
  • Advice to numerous governmental conservation laboratories, incl. China’s Forbidden City and Red Sandalwood Museum, Republic of Georgia, India, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Croatia. Talks on MCI, biodeterioration, and/or museum conservation to Vienna Technical University, UCLA, U. Ariz., India, Smithsonian. Press: Scholastic Science World Magazine, NCPTT, Secretary's column in Smithsonian Magazine, Science News. (2004- )
  • Nature short bio about my research in the art museum world. Nature, April 29, 2004 (2004)
  • Keynote speech at International Research Group on Wood Preservation. 35th Annual Meeting, Ljubljana, Slovenia. (2004)

Related Links

The Smithsonian and the SOLEIL Synchroton Partner