Interview with Christel Claire Pesme

Christel Claire PesmeName:  
Christel Claire Pesme, Independent researcher and paper conservator in private practice (Basel, Switzerland)
Quick Overview:
My professional work began as a graduate intern in the science department of the Getty Conservation Institute (as part of the Museum Lighting Research team).  In the last ten years or so I worked as an Assistant Paper Conservator at Balboa Art Conservation Center in San Diego, California; in private conservation practice focusing on works on paper and preventive conservation counseling in Los Angeles; as Assistant Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute in LA (again working on museum lighting research); then as an Associate Paper Conservator at the Getty. Since June 2013 I have been in private practice in Switzerland. I currently provide conservation of works on paper, microfading testing, preventive conservation counseling, and I teach about museum lighting issues.

Where were you born?
Paris, France

What was your professional training?
All my training was done at the University of Paris including a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Master’s in both Art History and Art Conservation, and a Ph.D. in Art History.

What was your very first job?
Prior to my career in conservation I was a teacher-assistant for kids with learning and behavior challenges.

What would your dream job be?
The right balance between research in material sciences applied to preventive conservation; conservation practice in various institutions; outreach activities (teaching in conservation training, workshops for conservator colleagues on best practice in lighting sensitive collection items); and working in collaboration with art historians and curators on value function.

How did your partnership with IPI begin?
When I was Mellon fellow in 2006, at the Balboa Art Conservation Center, I was first introduced to Climate Notebook, IPI’s first software for environmental management.  BACC was one of IPI’s early partners in developing the software. I also had the wonderful opportunity to attend a lecture by Jim Reilly (IPI’s Director) and to work with Jean-Louis Bigourdan (IPI Research Scientist) during a workshop organized by BACC on collection care.

Why does the preservation of museum and library collections matter to you?
I dedicated my professional life to it because I think that our relationship to these collection items help us to re-enchant our connection to our surrounding world and its inhabitants.

What is your favorite work of art or your favorite artist?
I am most sensitive to Installation Art.

What other hobbies or significant interests do you have?
I am fascinated by Philosophy.

What book or books would you like to have with you if you were marooned on a desert island?
I would be very unhappy missing human beings on a desert island. I would select the book that I am reading now, Between Reason and Experience by Andrew Feenberg (MIT 2010). If I can also choose one film it would be Being John Malkovitch, directed by Spike Jonze. For music I would take any disc of Tom Waits.

What is your most treasured possession?
The appreciation and love of the wonderful people surrounding me, even though I am not sure that it is a possession—it is rather a gift that I treasure.

What is your greatest indulgence?
Swiss chocolate and red wine with an accent of laziness.

What is the most surprising thing to you about IPI?
I am very impressed by the relevance and efficiency of a tools like IPI’s Climate Notebook and its most recent development (