UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


UCL ISH April Guest Lecture 'Satisfaction, uncertainty and data in conservation decision making'

20 April 2017, 5:45 pm–8:00 pm

Spring-loaded suffragette caricature from Brecknock museum

On Thursday 20 April, UCL ISH will be hosting a Guest Lecture to be delivered by Jane Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Conservation at Cardiff University.

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


G01, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Pl, Kings Cross, London WC1H 0NN



The experience of heritage is often an emotional one. Museums and historic houses create joy, wonder and inspiration. Conservation contributes to the long-term use of collections and sites by providing advice and interventions to maximize effective use. Conservation decision-making must therefore in part be informed by factors that are hard to quantify. How do conservators get the balance of hard data and emotional features right? Is there a difference between how decisions are made and how they are described? To what extent do conservators, consciously or unconsciously, rely on heuristic decision-making and can that process be improved?

Jane Henderson will ask how well conservators manage uncertainty whilst attempting to make good accountable decisions for the future of cultural heritage. Informed rational decision-making could be seen as the gold standard by modelling possible outcomes. Jane will argue that such a process inevitably tends to place greater value on activities and values that are easily described numerically. Consensus, the input of stakeholders, intuition and satisfactory outcomes can be lost in such a process. To make good conservation decisions we need to learn how to seek satisfaction and live well with uncertainty.


Jane Henderson has been working and studying in conservation and collection care in Wales since 1984. Jane teaches on Cardiff University’s BSc in Conservation and MSc’s in Collections Care and Conservation Practice. Jane has received University wide recognition, receiving student nominated awards for sustainability and contributing to student employability.

Jane is currently an executive member of the Welsh Federation of Museum and Art Galleries, a Trustee for the Cynon Valley Museum Trust and a member of the Welsh Governments Museums Strategy Steering Group. She serves on the editorial panel of the Journal of the Institute for Conservation and for a special edition of the Journal of the American Institute of Conservation. Jane sits on the European standards body CEN TC 346 WG11 considering the conservation process and commissioning and on the BSI standard group B/560 concerned with the conservation of Tangible Cultural heritage. She has received support from the Welsh Government to attend these meetings. Jane is a member of the ICOM-CC preventive-conservation working group. Jane has published on issues related to: conservation decision making; influence for collections care; sustainable conservation practice; teaching and assessing conservation.

© Image: 'Spring-loaded suffragette caricature from Brecknock Museum' Lea Parvio, Brecknock Museum