The ASM Conservation Laboratory provides dynamic research opportunities and real-world educational experiences for interns, visiting scholars, undergraduate and graduate students, and volunteers.

A center of research and professional training, Arizona State Museum’s conservation laboratory is where science and culture connect. Established in the late 1970s, it was the first, and remains the only, museum conservation laboratory in the state dedicated to the preservation of, and technical research on, anthropological collections. In addition to providing preventive and interventive care of ASM's vast collections, conservation professionals instruct scores of students in the field and in classroom settings, conduct cutting-edge research, and lecture extensively.  

ASM conservation professionals collaborate with colleagues within the museum, with faculty in other University of Arizona units, and with colleagues across the nation and around the globe. Research findings are shared with the world through books, chapters, journal articles, videos, presentations, and posters.

 The lab’s national funding sources have included:

  • the Bay and Paul, Kress, Stockman, Gutmann, and Getty Foundations

  • the National Science Foundation

  • the National Endowment for the Humanities

  • the National Endowment for the Arts

  • the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology

  • the Institute of Museum and Library Services

  • the National Park Service

Research conducted in the lab includes:

  • Characterization tests for objects of art, archaeology, and architecture.
  • Testing for mitigation of and educational outreach regarding pesticide residues on museum objects.
  • Development of new protocols for the care of ceramics; integrated pest management systems for museums; curricula development for conservation scientists; and curricula for the care of anthropology collections.
  • Protocols for the care of human remains in academic institutions; protocols for analysis, cleaning, stabilization, and exhibition of basketry; and protocols for emergency preparedness and recovery in museums.

Gina Watkinson
Conservation Laboratory Manager
Arizona State Museum / University of Arizona
P.O. Box 210026
Tucson, AZ  85721-0026

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Extras: Learn more about ASM Conservation and get some expert advice

About the Conservation Lab Tutorials Professional Presentations Just for Fun
Nancy Odegaard retires

Appropriate Handling of Museum Collections
(3 min 30 sec)

Ice Cold: Solid Carbon Dioxide Cleaning
(about 90 min)

Behind-the-scenes look at the mounting of the
"Woven Through Time" exhibit
 (1 min 18 sec)

ASM Cares for National Treasures 
(2 min 31 sec)

Basketry Cleaning
(4 min 15 sec)

  Lucy Debuting in Nationwide Tour
(about 3 min)
Conservation at ASM 
(8 min 47 sec)
Basket Mounting
(5 min 30 sec)

The Mammoth Bone Bed (video, 4 min 12 sec)

Listen to a podcast about the ASM mammoth (8 min 33 sec)

Nancy Odegaard's National Leadership 
(5 min 19 sec)

Care and Curation of Basketry Presentation
(about 1 hour 15 min)


Video Tour of the Conservation Lab 
(2 min,30 sec)

Care and Curation of Basketry Overview
(30 sec)
Listen to a 2009 interview with Dr. Odegaard, 
in which she discusses 
the work of the ASM
Conservation Lab (9 min 40 sec)

Care of Navajo Textiles (pdf)

Time lapse video of a ceramic vessel reconstruction (3 min 21 sec)

Labeling Objects Presentation
(about 1 hour)

The Largest Basket (and one of the largest) in the ASM Collection (5 min 5 sec)

Labeling Objects Tutorial
(about 5 min)


Materials for Storage and Soft Packing Presentation
(about 1 hour 15 min)


Soft Storage: Muslin (about 4 min)


Soft Storage: Polyethylene Foam (about 4 min)


Soft Storage: Polystyrene (about 2 min)


Attaching paper labels to objects (7 min 17 sec)