Eric F. Hansen (1949-2016) died in September after a protracted illness. Over the course of a long illness he maintained his courage, good humor, and amazing stamina.
A man of remarkably diverse interests, Eric maintained a lifelong fascination with subjects as varied as conservation science, anthropology, archaeology, art history, contemporary art, as well as the history of Hollywood. Eric held two Master's degrees, one in Chemical Engineering, and another in Materials Science and a doctorate in Archaeology from UCLA. At UCLA, Eric studied the Maya, focusing on lime plaster technology and the site of the Nakbe in Guatemala, working closely with Richard D. Hansen (no relation).
Eric began working at the Getty Museum prior to the formation of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). During his many years at the GCI, Eric's research focused on the preservation of proteinaceous materials including human mummies, silk, and vellum, involving work with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, and the Israel Antiquities Authority's Dead Sea Scrolls. He later devoted his research to problems concerning painted surfaces in early European painting and ethnographic objects. Studies also included testing modern paints using artificial aging and the effectiveness of consolidants on stone and earthen architecture. Eric always published his work and was professionally active in the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) – earning that organization's President's Award in 2006 – and the Western Association for Art Conservation (WAAC), as well as several international conservation organizations. With Mary Striegel, he founded the Research and Technical Studies Group of the AIC to promote practical collaboration between conservators and conservation scientists. He also became deeply involved in research regarding earthen architecture and lime mortars and plasters as an extension of his work at Nakbe. He worked closely with Koenraad Van Balen of Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and Carlos Rodriguez-Navarro of the University of Granada in Spain.
After leaving the GCI, Eric became the Chief of the Preservation Research and Testing division of the Library of Congress. He oversaw the increase in scientific staff as well as the remodeling of the laboratories. Eric was particularly interested in non-destructive testing using such methods as multi-spectral imagery and problems associated with digital storage media.
After retiring from the Library of Congress and returning to Los Angeles, Eric worked as a consultant for the Museums of New Mexico, Conservation Department on developing and funding expanded conservation science facilities and capabilities with the aim of preserving Southwestern United States archaeological and historical cultural artifacts and structures. He also joined the Advisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden's Historic Section and provided valuable technical and professional advice regarding the Arboretum's four historic buildings and mid-century landscape garden features. This resulted in the use of a lime mortar formulation for the repair of the Arboretum's large travertine fountains.
A private memorial service will be conducted by Eric's family. Contributions toward a memorial tree dedicated to his memory can can be sent to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden at the address below or donations can be made in his memory to the Foundation of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC).
Address information for the Los Angeles County Arboretum: Eric F. Hansen Memorial
c/o Ms. Brittany Fabeck
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
301 North Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007