Instructor Bios

Training & Classes:    List of Classes by Instructor

Helen Alten, is the Director of Northern States Conservation Center and its chief Objects Conservator. For nearly 30 years she has been involved in objects conservation, starting as a pre-program intern at the Oriental Institute in Chicago and the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a degree in Archaeological Conservation and Materials Science from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London in England. She has built and run conservation laboratories in Bulgaria, Montana, Greece, Alaska and Minnesota. She has a broad understanding of three-dimensional materials and their deterioration, wrote and edited the quarterly Collections Caretaker, maintains the popular web site, lectures throughout the United States on collection care topics, was instrumental in developing a state-wide protocol for disaster response in small Minnesota museums, has written, received and reviewed grants for NEH and IMLS, worked with local foundations funding one of her pilot programs, and is always in search of the perfect museum mannequin. She has published chapters on conservation and deterioration of archeological glass with the Materials Research Society and the York Archaeological Trust, four chapters on different mannequin construction techniques in Museum Mannequins: A Guide for Creating the Perfect Fit (2002), preservation planning, policies, forms and procedures needed for a small museum in The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums' Collection Initiative Manual, and is co-editor of the penultimate book on numbering museum collections (still in process) by the Gilcrease Museum in Oklahoma. Helen Alten has been a Field Education Director, Conservator, and staff trainer. She began working with people from small, rural, and tribal museums while as the state conservator for Montana and Alaska. Helen currently conducts conservation treatments and operates a conservation center in Charleston, WV and St. Paul, MN.

MS008: Buy-In: Getting All of the Staff to Support Preservation (short course)
MS010: Condition Assessments(short course)
MS104: An Introduction to Collections Preservation
MS204: Materials for Storage and Display
MS213: Museum Artifacts: How they were made and how they deteriorate
MS217: Museum Cleaning Basics
MS224: Care of Leather and Skin Materials
MS243: Making Museum Quality Mannequins
MS253: Disaster Preparation & Recovery **NEW**
MS302: Introduction to Grant Writing and Fundraising
MS202: Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture
MS262: Moving Collections
MS203: Museum Storage Techniques **NEW**

Tom Bennett, Museum Manager at the Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo in Anchorage, Alaska, has worked as a professional museum mount maker for 25 years. He attended the University of Victoria British Columbia, Heritage Preservation Program's basic mountmaking course and learned the rest of his skills on the job. His mounts appear in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Alaska State Museum, the Museum of the Aleutians, the Washington Historical Society, the Monterey Historical Society, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Port of Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma Airport), and National Park Service and US Forest Service visitor centers. He has worked for five different museum exhibit design and fabrication firms as well as being the former director of the Alaska Museum of Natural History. Tom Bennett works in a variety of materials, including Plexiglas, brass, wood, and polyethylene foam.

MS238: Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts
MS233: Matting and Framing

Christina Cain Cain has a 17 year career working with museum collections preservation and registration. Currently the Anthropology Collections Manager at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, she has previous experience at the Denver Art Museum, Astor House Museum, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indiana State Museum, and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Christina specializes in Integrated Pest Management and emergency preparedness. In 2013, she was selected to participate in the IMLS-funded Colorado Connecting to Collections peer assessor training program. The program developed a network of museum professionals to assess collections conditions and emergency preparedness in institutions throughout the state of Colorado. Christina graduated with a Master’s of Science in Museum and Field Studies, focusing on anthropological collections management and Integrated Pest Management from the University of Colorado Boulder.

MS210: Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives

Ernest A. Conrad's greatest contribution to the preservation field was the development of environmental guidelines for engineers who work on museums, libraries and archives. For over 20 years, Mr. Conrad has focused on environmental issues. He is president of Conrad Engineers and Past Founder of Landmark Facilities Group, Inc., an engineering firm specializing in environmental systems for museums, libraries, archives and historic facilities. A licensed mechanical engineer in several states, Mr. Conrad holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's in environmental engineering from Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information visit his web site Landmark Facilities Group, Inc.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) publishes standards in the areas of HVAC and refrigeration. Mr. Conrad recently co-authored the ASHRAE Applications Handbook "Chapter 20: Museums, Libraries and Archives." For the first time, there are guidelines specific to our needs in the engineering literature. Mr. Conrad has studied environments and designed special climate control systems throughout the United States for clients as well-known as the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, The Frick Collection, Getty Conservation Institute, The Pierpont Morgan Library, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and National Park Service. He has a special interest in house museums and how climate affects structures and collections housed within those structures. For more information, visit his website.

MS211: Preservation Environments

Ann Coppinger runs the conservation department and teaches conservation at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She has a master's in museum studies specializing in costume and textile conservation from FIT. She is a former NEA master apprentice at the Textile Conservation Workshop. Ms. Coppinger previously worked for 22 years in fashion in New York City. She has degrees in both fashion design and pattern making from FIT. 

MS212: Care of Textiles

Sherry Doyal is head of the organic artefacts conservation section at the British Museum. She now specializes in conservation of botanic materials. Sherry has previous experience of private practice conservation serving regional historic houses, scientific botany collections (herbaria) and small museums. Her employment history also includes large museums (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY and Victoria and Albert Museum, London). Sherry received a conservation and restoration studies certificate with distinction from Lincoln College of Art in 1980 and a post graduate certificate in upholstery conservation from the Textile Conservation Centre, Hampton Court Palace in 1984. Sherry received a further and adult education teachers’ certificate from Exeter College in 1998 and a diploma in design and craft (constructed textiles) in the context of basketry from City Literacy College, London in 2008. In her spare time she is a maker and exhibitor of contemporary basketry works.

MS225: Care of Baskets

Fiona Graham is an accredited professional conservator (CAPC) offering bilingual (English & French) services in preventive conservation and heritage restoration to the museum and heritage field. Her areas of expertise include; preventive conservation in facility design and operations, specifications and project management for conservation projects, metals conservation, pest management, condition surveys, emergency planning, and policies and procedures. She is currently a Conservator at Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects, a Tutor at Athabasca University and the Course Director for the Ontario Museum Association.

MS219: Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums **NEW**
MS223: Care of Metals

Karl Hoerig is director of Nohwike' Bágowa (House of Our Footprints), the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center and Museum, in Fort Apache, Arizona. The position requires multifaceted involvement in the community, a mix of museum tasks, heritage promotion, cultural heritage resource protection and management, capacity building, economic development and enhancing sovereignty. Karl Hoerig has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Arizona.

MS254: Retail Store Management for Small Museums

Karin Hostetter has over thirty years experience with museum education. With a career that includes natural history museums, cultural history museums (including first person interpretation), nature centers, and zoos, Ms. Hostetter is experienced in interpretive writing, program and curriculum development, and staff and volunteer training. As a museum educator, she was Curator of Education for the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary (McKinney, TX). Among her award-winning education curricula are several programs she developed for the education departments during her five years at the Heard Museum and her twelve years on staff at the Denver Zoo. As an interpretive writer, Ms. Hostetter has written text for exhibits, wayside exhibits, visitor brochures, and professional magazines. Her skill is in making technical information understandable and meaningful to visitors. 

Karin has worked with volunteers throughout her career, becoming the first paid volunteer coordinator at the Denver Zoo. Ms. Hostetter taught the National Association for Interpretation's two-day volunteer management course for volunteer coordinators and served on their panel about volunteer programs. She authored a series of articles for the National Association for Interpretation's Legacy magazine, providing guidelines for developing and maintaining a volunteer organization. Ms. Hostetter now consults with organizations on structuring and improving volunteer programs. 

Over the years, Ms. Hostetter has been responsible for small animal exhibits and animal care at both the Heard Museum and the Denver Zoo. She worked with wild animal rehabilitation and public education animals, work that included training volunteer animal handlers. Karin co-founded the Zoos, Wildlife Parks, and Aquaria special interest section of the National Association for Interpretation. 

Karin Hostetter is owner of Interpret This, a consulting company specializing in interpretive writing, program and curriculum development, and volunteer program management. When she is not consulting with other museums, she likes to volunteer and contract teach at them with a special love for preschool and family programs.

MS011: Gallery Guides (short course)
MS012: Keeping Small Animals on Exhibit (short course)
   (Care and Feeding of Small Animal Exhibits)
MS014: Education Collections **NEW** (short course)
MS108: Fundamentals of Museum Volunteer Programs
MS235: Scripting the Exhibition
MS236: Education in Museums
MS237: Formative Evaluation for Exhibits and Public Programs **NEW**
MS259: The Volunteer Handbook **NEW**

Kim Kenney graduated summa cum laude from Wells College in Aurora, NY with a major in American history and minor in creative writing, where she became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Master of Arts degree in History Museum Studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Kim served as Curator of Collections at the Historical Society of Rockland County in New City, NY before taking the position of Curator at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in October 2001. She is the author of four books, Canton: A Journey Through Time, Canton’s West Lawn Cemetery, Canton’s Pioneers in Flight and Canton Entertainment. She has also published an exhibition review in The Public Historian, the journal of the National Council for Public History. Her work has appeared in The Repository, The Boston Globe and the literary magazine Mused.  She serves as editor of the Museum’s website at, where she has authored several ebooks. The Association of Gravestone Studies recently awarded her the Oakley Certificate of Merit for her interpretive projects at West Lawn Cemetery, and she served as the Region 5 representative for the National Digital Newspaper Project in Ohio and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Mount Union.

MS101: Introduction to Museums
MS209: Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions

Sarah Kapellusch is the Registrar at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a MA in Public History and Museum Studies and a BA in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She serves as the Vice President of the Wisconsin Federation of Museums and is a task force member for the American Association for State and Local History’s Nomenclature Committee. Sarah’s experiences include museum collection administration and management, metadata, PastPerfect and database management, Nomenclature 3.0, collection moves and museum start-up projects.

MS214: Collection Management Databases

Diana Komejan graduated from Sir Sandford Fleming Colleges Art Conservation Techniques program in 1980. She has worked for Parks Canada; Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan; Heritage Branch Yukon Territorial Government; National Gallery of Canada; Canadian Museum of Nature; Yukon Archives and the Antarctic Heritage Trust and is currently teaching Conservation Techniques in the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. In 1995 she was accredited in Mixes Collection with The Canadian Association of Professional Conservators. Her work as a conservator has been quite broad in scope, having worked with historic sites, archaeological excavations and museums. In addition to lab treatments, Diana has broad archaeological experience, including the excavation of mammoths and dinosaur tracks.

MS001: The Problem with Plastics (short course)
MS215: Care of Archaeological Artifacts from the Field to the Lab
MS226: Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts

Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of The Cultural Property Protection Manual, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site Layne Consultants International

MS107: Introduction to Museum Security
MS304: Security I - Certified Institutional Protection Specialist
MS305: Security II - Certified Institutional Protection Manager

Sofia Galarza Liu is the collection manager and database project co-manager at the Spencer Museum of Art of the University of Kansas. Ms. Liu is also an implementation consultant and educator for Zetcom Information Systems, Inc.; she provides database administrator and user training for United States MuseumPlus clients. Ms. Liu's accomplishments include completing a two-year IMLS grant funded project to digitize the Spencer Museum of Art's collections and attending Museum Leaders: the Next Generation training at the Getty Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, California. She has a B.F.A in the History of Art and a Master's degree in Museum Studies from the University of Kansas. 

MS214: Collection Management Databases

Susan Near is the Development & Marketing Officer at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Prior positions at the Historical Society include director of museum services (1989-2007), curator of collections (1984-1989), and registrar (1982-1984). She also worked as collections research specialist at the Valley Forge Historical Society in Pennsylvania. She has been curator for more than 20 major exhibitions ranging from western art to decorative arts, and has conducted material culture research covering a broad range of collections. Near co-authored Montana's State Capitol:The People's House, Montana Historical Society Press, 2002. Near has extensive administrative experience especially in grant-writing, heritage tourism, educational outreach, public relations, marketing, planning for new museum construction, and project and event management. She is an accreditation visiting committee member for the American Association of Museums, has conducted peer reviews for the Museums Assessment Program, and has reviewed and served on grants panels for the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ms. Near is a graduate of the Museum Studies Program at the University of Delaware and the Getty's Museum Management Institute.

MS109: Museum Management

Lin Nelson-Mayson, with over 25 years of museum experience at small and large institutions, is director of the University of Minnesota's Goldstein Museum of Design. Prior to that, she was the director of ExhibitsUSA, a nonprofit exhibition touring organization that annually tours over 30 art and humanities exhibitions across the country. For five years, she was a coordinator or judge for the American Association of Museums' Excellence in Exhibitions Competition. She currently serves on the exhibition committee for the National Sculpture Society. Ms. Nelson-Mayson has extensive experience with the planning, preparation, research and installation of exhibitions. Ms Nelson-Mayson's experience includes teaching museum studies and museology courses. Her particular interest is the needs of small museums. 

Her credentials include the following;

  • An MFA from The Ohio State University in sculpture and critical writing
  • A BFA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in painting.
  • Work as a curator for the Ross County Historic Society (Chillicothe, Ohio), the Art Museum of South Texas (Corpus Christi), the Columbia Museum of Art (South Carolina), and the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
MS106: Exhibit Fundamentals: Ideas to Installation
MS244: Traveling Exhibitions
MS303: Found in the Collection: Orphans, Old Loans and Abandoned Property

Claudia Nicholson is Executive Director of the North Star Museum of Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting in North St. Paul, MN. Claudia began her career in museums at the National Archives in Washington, DC. After earning her Masters Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, she became Curator of Collections for the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. While there, she worked with a Native American advisory committee to create a groundbreaking exhibit on Sioux life in South Dakota. After seven years, she moved to St. Paul to become a curator at the Minnesota Historical Society. She has 32 years experience in museums and historical organizations.

MS256: Establishing a Museum ** NEW **

Dr. Nancy Odegaard is the Conservator and Head of the Preservation Division for Arizona State Museum. She is also a Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Nancy manages and supervises staff and programs in the conservation lab, advises on museum environmental issues, and seeks to promote the preservation of collections through improved exhibition and storage conditions. Nancy holds a Ph.D. in Applied Science through the Conservation and Cultural Heritage Science Studies Department of the University of Canberra, Australia. She earned her M.A. in Museum Studies/Anthropology at the George Washington University with a Certificate in Ethnographic and Archaeological Conservation from the Smithsonian Institution. Nancy specializes in the conservation of archaeological and ethnographic objects including the examination, analysis, and study of materials and pre-industrial technologies used to fabricate artifacts. She is the author of the 2005 publication Old Poisons, New Problems about pesticides on Native museum objects.

MS255: Dangerous Materials: Chemical Poisons in Collections

Victoria Montana Ryan Victoria Montana Ryan is a former Assistant Professor for the Conservation of Paintings at Queen's University Kingston, Ontario and former adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver where she was conservator of paintings at the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center for over a decade. Victoria Montana Ryan received her Master of Art Conservation from Queen's University and a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in Art Education/Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico. Ms. Ryan has authored papers on the care of paintings, integrated pest management, and the importance of working with appraisers; she has also appeared on the Discovery Channel to discuss care of personal treasures. A Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, Ms. Ryan is also a member of the Western Association for Art Conservation and the Canadian Association for Conservation. She resides in Colorado Springs, CO where she operates her private conservation practice, Art Care Services, to serve the conservation needs of museums, historical societies, public and private collectors, institutions, corporations, and municipalities, focusing on the care and preservation of works of art. For more information visit her web site Art Care Services

MS227: Care of Paintings

Peggy Schaller, founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. Peggy, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has a bachelor's degree in anthropology with minors in art history and geology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has a master's degree in anthropology with a minor in museum studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a Certified Institutional Protection Manager II. She provides workshops and project services to museums and historical societies all across the country. The mission of Collections Research for Museums is to inspire museums to improve their professional standards, collections stewardship and service to their constituency through training in, and assistance with, documenting, preserving, protecting and managing their collections. For more information visit her web site Collections Research for Museums

MS007: The Mission Statement: Is it really that important? (short course)
MS103: The Basics of Museum Registration
MS207: Collections Management: Cataloging Your Collection
MS218: Collection Inventories

Terri Schindel, graduated from the Courtauld Art Institute, University of London with a concentration in textile conservation. Since 1988 she has taught collections care and preventive conservation to museum staff. She has assisted museums in writing disaster plans for more than a decade and helped develop national standards for disaster-preparedness materials. Ms. Schindel specializes in collection care and preventive conservation and works regularly with small, rural and tribal museums. She is familiar with the many challenges and lack of resources facing these institutions. Ms. Schindel is committed to maintaining the uniqueness of each museum while ensuring that they serve as a resource for future generations. 

MS002: Collection Protection - Are you Prepared? (short course)

MS205/6: Disaster Plan Research and Writing

Jennifer Edwards is the Archivist/Records Manager for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. After completing an MA in Public History at Wright State University located in Dayton, Ohio, she began working for the National Park Service at cultural and environmental heritage sites including the National Archives for Black Women’s History and the South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) located in Everglades National Park. She then transitioned to the USDA National Wildlife Research Center, which combined her love of archives and environmental history. Her current projects include digitizing archival materials, the preservation and conservation of data and creation of an electronic records management filing scheme.

MS234: Archives Management

Jerry Shiner has been providing consultant services for environmental control of museum display and storage applications for almost twenty years. Mr. Shiner has extensive expertise in both active and passive methods of mitigating and controlling humidity, temperature, pollution, and oxygen levels for display and storage enclosures. His experience includes working with architects, engineers, and conservators to design both local and central systems for large museums. As founder of Keepsafe Microclimate Systems he has provided hundreds of active and passive solutions for low oxygen treatment and storage (anoxia), and showcase humidity and temperature control. Mr. Shiner is author of numerous articles on microclimate storage and display. His clients include museums in the US and Europe. When not working on microclimates, Mr. Shiner can bang out a passable version of "Lady of Spain" on the accordion. For more in formation visit his web site KEEPSAFE

MS242: Museum Microclimates

Gawain Weaver teaches international workshops on photograph conservation and preservation. He earned his master's degree in art history and conservation from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts and was a fellow at the George Eastman House and Image Permanence Institute for two years. His interest in photograph conservation included studying at Library and Archives Canada, the Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Northeast Document Conservation Center. For more information visit his web site Conservation and Consulting Services in the Care of Historic and Fine Art Photographs

MS222: Care of Photographs

If you are interested in these courses, please contact Helen Alten at and sign up at MuseumClasses.orgSigning up as a prospective student now for any future courses is encouraged and does not require payment. Students will not be enrolled in paid courses until payment has been received. Students are manually enrolled into courses as they open, enrollment keys are no longer necessary.