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The conservation team consists of several conservators, a project director, an advisory committee, a rigger and a photographer. We also have several conservation technicians, one of whom has become a painting conservator in her own right, one who is also a textile artist, one who also works for a paper conservator, and one who has abandoned art for science. 


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Christine Hadsel was the first Executive Director of the Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance.  During her 11-year tenure, she built the membership from 50 to over 200 collecting and exhibiting institutions in Vermont. She also raised funds for the Vermont Collections Care Program, and oversaw Vermont’s participation in the national “Save Outdoor Sculpture” program. In 1998, she began work on the painted theater curtain project. The collection of Vermont curtains was awarded the status of “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Treasure, and the work to conserve them on-site has received national and international recognition. In addition to her supervisory duties, she works as a conservation assistant, especially when new support systems need to be created, and she gives talks and slide shows. She is currently on the board of the Vermont Humanities Council, the Vermont World Affairs Council, and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum.

Christine Hadsel

Project Director

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MJ Davis received her MA in Art Conservation from the State University College at Buffalo in 1994 with a specialization in Paper Conservation. After completing an internship at the Straus Center for Conservation at Harvard University, she was awarded a Getty Advanced Internship, which she carried out at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Between 1995 and 2004 she served as Project Director for the Vermont Collections Care Program, where her work focused on collection care issues for the small, rural historical societies, museums, and galleries in the state. She is also one of the original surveyors to document Vermont’s collection of hand-painted stage curtains. She serves as lead conservator at some curtain sites and as consulting conservator at others. MJ maintains a private conservation practice in Newark, VT.

Mary Jo Davis

Lead Conservator

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Suki Fredericks is a private paintings conservator who has sub-contracted with the Shelburne Museum since 1998. There she works part-time conserving paintings on canvas and wood, primarily from the folk art collection. Her MA degree in art history and conservation is from New York University and she has additional training under Rustin Levenson in New York and at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  She has a conservation studio at her home in Leicester, VT.

Suki Fredericks 

Painting Conservator

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Michele Pagan lives in East Dorset, VT. Her training was at the University of Vermont, University of Connecticut and Tufts University. For three years she was also the first collections manager for the Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance. In addition to her work on painted theater curtains, she is the textile conservator for the Vermont state collection of historic flags. From 2003 to 2005, she was part of the Star Spangled Banner Project at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Michele Pagan

Textiles Conservator

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Emily Phillips earned her MA in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College in 2008 with a specialization in Paintings Conservation. Her career began in 2002 as a technician for the Vermont Painted Theater Curtain Project. Since then she has completed internships at the Shelburne Museum, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., The Fogg Museum in Boston,  the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as a year-long mural project at the Trinity Church in Boston, MA. She now resides in Essex, NY, where she has a private conservation practice focused on paintings, large and small, as well as collections care. She continues to be involved in conserving painted theater curtains.

Emily Gardner Phillips

 Painting Conservator

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Carolyn Frisa has a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a M.A. in Paper Conservation from the Camberwell College of Arts, London Institute, UK. She worked at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Amherst, MA from 2006-2008 and since then she has developed a private practice in Bellows Falls, VT. She has been a member of the AIC National Heritage Responders Team since 2011.

Carolyn Frisa

Paper Conservator

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In 2004, Wylie began working with the conservation team as an on-site technician. She received her MFA in 2008 from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. When she is not working on curtains, she is making her own art:  Mary Richardson works with MJ Davis in her paper conservation lab and specializes in framing.

Wylie Garcia and MaryRichardson

Conservation Assistants


Rick Kerschner was long-time Director of Preservation and Conservation at the Shelburne Museum, where he established the conservation department in 1983. He guided the establishment of VMGA’s Collection Care Program and teaches preventive conservation workshops for the American Association for State and Local History. He is a fellow of IIC and former treasurer of the American Institute for Conservation. The advisory committee also includes Elsa Gilbertson, VT Division for Historic Preservation, and Eileen Corcoran, Community Outreach and Media Coordinator, VT Historical Society.

Richard Kerschner

Chair of the Board

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Robert Brier is a member of IATSE Local 919 and owner of “Show Works” in Barre, VT. He has a special affinity for the challenges of historic buildings and historic scenery installations. He has been in business for over 20 years and installs any piece that is too big for the conservation team to safely handle or too complicated because of stage size and condition. He currently works for Production Advantage in Williston, VT. (which is also the source for rigging supplies).

Robert Brier


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Carolyn Bates has been a professional photographer in Burlington, VT, for 30 years. She specializes in photographs of architecture, interior design and Vermont scenes. She took most of the photos in Suspended Worlds by Christine Hadsel, Godine Press, 2015.

Carolyn L. Bates


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