Donald C. Williams
Museum Conservation Institute
Smithsonian Institution
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746


Technology of Artistic and Historic Objects (interdisciplinary triple major in chemistry, studio art, and art history administered through the Art Conservation Department), 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 University, (1972-4)

Continuing Education short courses and workshops

Polymer Chemistry (ACS), 1985
Metallurgy for Conservators (AIC), 1985
Preservation of Historic Structures and Collections (IIC-CG), 1986
Color and Appearance (HunterLab), 1987
Modern Management (SI), 1989
Teaching Preservation (IIC-CG), 1990
New Methods of Cleaning ("Wolbers workshop"), 1991
Professional Writing (SCMRE), 1992
Video Production (SI), 1995
Preservation of Large and Diverse Collections (SCMRE), 1997
PhotoShop Toolbox (Piwowar Assoc.), 1999
Adobe Illustrator I & II (Piwowar Assoc.), 2000
Practical Emulsion Polymerization (So. Miss. Univ.), 2002
Coatings Formulation Chemistry (So. Miss. Univ.), 2002


Senior Furniture Conservator/Furniture Conservator, Museum Conservation Institute, Smithsonian Institution (formerly the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education; formerly the Conservation Analytical Laboratory), Washington D.C. 20560 (1984 - 1994, resumed 2001- present).

  • Provided collections care for furniture and wooden objects from the Smithsonian collections: structural repair and stabilization, finish deterioration and replacement, veneer and Boulle work, carving, gilding, lacquered and inlaid papier mache furniture, and consultation on objects as diverse as the Wright Flyer and wooden mail wagons
  • Director, Furniture Conservation Training Program 1989-1995.
  • Conducted additional educational functions included designing, organizing and executing the courses, scripting and supervising the production of the instructional video "Care and Maintenance of Furniture", writing, and numerous lectures and presentations; served as an adjunct lecturer in the Conservation Science Doctoral Program in the Materials Science Department of Johns Hopkins University; faculty member Parsons/Smithsonian MA Program in the History of the Decorative Arts.
  • Engaged in studies of materials and development of treatment options and protocols, especially as related to technology and preservation of coatings materials and decorative surfaces

Coordinator of Education and Training, Museum Conservation Institute (formerly the Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE)), Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 20560 (1994 to 2001).

  • Planned and coordinated education and outreach programs and projects at MCI.
  • Oversaw use and maintenance of MCI education facilities and resources.
  • Supervised MCI staff assigned to Education and Outreach programming.
  • Served as a member of MCI management in establishing program and resource allocation priorities.
  • Acted as MCI course(s) faculty member, providing instruction within the MCI offerings through lectures, presentations, demonstrations, and individual and group laboratory instruction.

Private conservation practice including institutional and private clients (1982 to present)

  • Services include conservation treatments of varying complexity, collections surveys, collection management and other consulting such as providing counsel to institutional clients on a variety of subjects. This practice is now called "Artisans' Studio" and will focus in the future on providing furniture conservation along with restoration foundry services (pattern and model making; bronze , aluminum, and resin casting) along with collections care.
  • Inventor of imitation tortoiseshell, 2002; patent pending .

Conservation Technician, Metals (Objects), Conservation Laboratory, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur DE (1982 4)

  • Primary duties were cleaning, polishing, and coating metal objects from the collection.

Furniture Conservation Assistant (volunteer), Furniture Conservation Laboratory, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur DE (1981 4)

  • Involved in all phases of furniture conservation, including examination of collection furniture, writing treatment proposals, and execution and documentation of conservation treatments on assigned articles.
  • Projects included routine cleaning and waxing, finish and structural consolidation of deteriorated objects, and reconstruction of severely damaged objects.

Patternmaker, Maddox Foundry and Machine Works, Archer FL (1978 81)

  • Participated in all activities in a patternmaking shop of a foundry which fabricated a wide variety of industrial machines, primarily mining and dredging.
  • Duties included the use of hand and power woodworking tools and machines to construct wooden forms in a variety of shapes and sizes (up to 50 cu.ft.) to very close tolerances (+ 0.015 in.) from engineering drawings.

Colonial Woodworking (restoration and reproductions), Archer FL (1978 81)

  • Proprietor of a business which specialized in restoring and refinishing fine furniture, custom woodworking, and period reproductions. Owned, operated, and maintained woodworking machinery, power and hand tools, and spray equipment. Constructed, without assistance, 1000 sq.ft. shop building, including form work, carpentry, wiring, and plumbing.

Restorer/Finisher, Schindler & Son of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach FL (1974 1977, 1978)

  • Restored a wide variety of furniture and wooden artifacts from the 16th century to the present. These projects included furniture made of many different materials; solid wood, veneer (wood and stone), inlay (wood, metal, tortoise shell), papier mache, and composite materials, using techniques employed in fabricating or restoring furniture; finishing, joinery, carving, veneering, marquetry, and gesso and gilding.

Piano and Clock Restorer, R.A. Wiegert & Co., Gainesville FL (1977 1978)

  • Primary activities were to restore and/or refinish the cases of clocks and pianos, and under the direction of the proprietor, executed some of the mechanical restoration to the works, especially of pianos and player-pianos.


  • Advanced Coating Treatment (week-long course), 2003.
  • Imitation Tortoiseshell, 2002. Invention; patent pending.
  • Technology and Preservation of Historic Polychrome Coatings on Wood (week long course), 2002 - .
  • Collections Care and Preservation (two day workshop), 2001.
  • Technology and Preservation of Historic Coatings, (week long course) 2001 - .
  • Boullework and Marquetry (two, three, and four day workshops), 2001 - .
  • SANTOS: Substance and Soul/Sustancia y Alma - exhibit and related educational programming, co-developer, 2000-2002.
  • Molding and Casting Reproduction Artifacts I & II (integrated pair of two day workshops), 1999.
  • "A Closer Look at Santos / Una Mirada los Profunda a los Santos". Exhibit and monograph. Santa Clara, CA (Santa Clara University); co-developer, 1999.
  • Technology of Furniture Making - Decoration (week long course), 1998 - .
  • Technology of Furniture Making - Structure (week long course), 1998 - .
  • Technology and Preservation of Paper, Paintings and Furniture (week long course), 1997 - 2003 .
  • Science Teaching Art Teaching Science (STATS) - art-materials-based high school science curriculum, co-developer, 1996 - present.
  • Furniture Care and Maintenance (half hour instructional video), 1996.
  • Abrasiveness of Packing Materials (research project presented at "Art in Transit" conference), 1991.
  • Shellac Finishing (two day workshop), 1986 - present.(repeated annually)
  • Furniture Conservation Training Program (4-year MA curriculum) 1985 - 2001; co-creator


Saving Stuff . 2004.
"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 (in process).
"Natural Resins for Traditional Finishing." Professional Refinisher, September/October 1999.
"Finding Common Ground: Refinishers and Conservators." Professional Refinisher, April/May 1999.
"A Closer Look at Santos / Una Mirada los Profunda a los Santos" (with J. Tsang). Exhibit script and monograph. Santa Clara, CA (Santa Clara University) and Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education; 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.
"The Past and Future History of Natural Resins as Coating Materials;" in Resins Ancient and Modern. Edinburgh: Scottish Society for Restoration and Conservation; 1995.
"From Log to Lumber: Technology Leaves Its Mark." Proceedings of the Yale University/Smithsonian Institution Seminar on Material Culture Wood: Timber, Transformation and Design. 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.
"A Load To Bear" (with D. van der Reyden). In 1992 Antiques Show Magazine, Richmond Academy of Medicine Foundation, 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 Part 2." Wood Finisher, Issue Five, Winter, 1988.
"Solvents and Solutions Part 1." Wood Finisher, Issue Four, Fall, 1987.
"Ex Libris." Wood Finisher, Issue Three, Spring, 1987.
"Furniture Conservation Finishes Part s 1 & 2." Wood Finisher, Issue Three, Spring, 1987; Issue Two, 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.

Hobbies and Interests

Forbidden subjects (religion, history, politics, and economics); metal casting; decorative design and fabrication, especially Japanese carpentry and landscaping; reading and writing mystery fiction; jazz; good barbeque, computer graphics (Photoshop, CorelDraw, Illustrator, etc.).