Associate Scientist, Scientific

Conservation image

Eric Hansen was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, where his father worked in the aerospace industry. After high school he did some college work, traveled abroad with Chapman College's World Campus Afloat program, and then completed his undergraduate studies at California State University at San Francisco while living among redwoods in Marin County. Although interested in art and history, he gravitated toward chemistry, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1977. He went on to get a master's degree at the University of California, Irvine, and subsequently an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at California State University at Long Beach.

Before he could pursue engineering, however, he interviewed for a research assistant position at the newly formed Getty Conservation Institute.

Joining the GCI in 1985, he became an assistant scientist in 1987 and an associate scientist in 1989. His early Institute research focused on accelerated-aging testing of certain polymers for use in conservation, and on investigating the optimal relative humidity conditions for long-term storage of materials that contain collagen and skin. Later he studied the problems of consolidating matte paint, particularly on ethnographic objects, and codeveloped and edited a special supplement to Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts on that subject. Presently he is investigating conservation issues related to architecture and archaeological sites. A fellow of the AIC since 1992, he has been working with AIC colleagues on ways to increase dialogue between conservators and conservation scientists.

In 1992, while continuing his GCI work, Mr. Hansen entered UCLA's archaeology program, and he plans to receive his Ph.D. degree later this year. He is interested in exploring ways to derive cultural information from the examination of past technologies. For his dissertation he is studying the cultural implications of the technology used for plaster and stucco production in late preclassic Maya sites, particularly the site of Nakbé in Guatemala, a place so isolated it requires two days of travel on foot or mule through the untouched tropical rain forest of northern Petén to get there. His research has involved trips not only to Guatemala but also to the jungles of Mexico and Belize, and he's been grateful for the chance to see so much of the region's art.