CAA/AIC Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation

The College Art Association (CAA) / American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation recognizes outstanding contributions by one or more persons who, individually or jointly, have enhanced understanding of art through the application of knowledge and experience in conservation, art history, and art. The joint award with AIC was first presented in 2016. (The CAA/AIC award was formerly known as the CAA/Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation.) Deadline for 2017 nominations is July 31, 2016. For more information, see the CAA website.

2016 Winner

Debra Hess Norris

Debra Hess Norris has perhaps done more than any single individual in the 21st century to further the cause of preservation of cultural heritage both nationally and internationally.  She is the only person who has served as President of both the American Institute for Conservation and Heritage Preservation/National Institute for Conservation. 

She has organized and taught more than 85 workshops on Emergency Preparedness/ Disaster Recovery and the preservation of photographic materials in locations including: Australia, India, Lebanon, Russia, New Zealand, Denmark, France, and throughout the U.S. from New York to California.  More than half of all the photograph conservators in the US (and many abroad) have been taught by Professor Norris, who is Chair and Director of Art Conservation at the University of Delaware, one of only four graduate programs in conservation in the US, where she has taught since 1982.  Her former students now head conservation departments in many major museums, libraries, and historical societies.

Professor Norris is a tireless advocate for preservation and conservation awareness and public outreach in the arts and humanities, encouraging all who work with her to do likewise. Norris was the obvious choice to lead the first Salzburg Global Seminar on “Connecting to the World’s Collections: Making the case for the conservation and preservation of our cultural heritage” in November 2009.  She has continued to arrange international partnerships, including successful initiatives to train more conservators and care for collections in Iraq, with additional plans to work with cultural heritage in Pakistan and Peru.

Professor Norris has published scores of articles on all aspects of photograph conservation, emergency preparedness, and advocacy for the conservation profession. She may be best known for her scholarly publication in which she co-edited a compilation of fundamental writings in the field of photograph conservation with Jennifer Jae Gutierrez. Titled Issues in the Conservation of Photographs and published by the Getty Conservation Institute in 2010, it is now a central text for anyone interested in the history of photograph conservation.

Debra Hess Norris embodies excellence in scholarship in the arts and humanities, and preservation of cultural resources, making her most deserving of this award.

Jury: Ellen Pearlstein, University of California, Los Angeles, chair; Brian Considine, J. Paul Getty Museum; and Glenn Wharton, New York University.

Past Winners

Conservators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and, more recently, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum have all received the CAA/American Institute for Conservation Award. Independent scholars and conservators, such as Andrea Kirsch and Rustin S. Levenson (both 2001) and John Thorpe (2006) have also been honored. Perhaps the most international of CAA awards, recipients from institutions abroad include Paolo Cherchi Usai of the National Screen and Sound Archive in Australia (2005) and Ernst van de Wetering at the University of Amsterdam (2003).

Read a list of all winners of the CAA/American Institute for Conservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation from 1991 to the present.

- from the CAA website