David Blanchfield


  • Conservation

Man working on conservation

David Blanchfield began his career as a musical instrument maker, cabinet maker, and carpenter. Tying all of these interests together, he returned to school and received a BA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst followed by a Masters in Science from the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, where he specialized in objects conservation. While in school, he held internships at the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Following graduation, he started work at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as an intern in the instruments conservation laboratory. Over a twenty-year career there he managed several labs and ultimately became director of conservation. In that position he oversaw the work of nine specialty laboratories and was responsible for establishing that institution’s first dedicated analytical lab.

Shifting gears in 2017, he accepted a position at the National Air and Space Museum. Here he is gratified by the unique challenges of working with the historically priceless artifacts composing this collection.

Selected Presentations

Excavating a Future from the Past: Conservation and Archaeology at Colonial Williamsburg. Annual meeting of the Colonial Williamsburg Raleigh Tavern Society. May 2015.

Conservation: Where Art and Science Meet. Presentation to the Colonial Williamsburg Board of Directors.  March 2010 and May 2011.

Reading the Evidence: 18th –century Upholstered Chairs. 63rd Annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum. February, 2011.

Using Technology to Solve the Mysteries: High-Tech Equipment used in Colonial Williamsburg’s Conservation Labs to Help Us Better Understand Our Collections. 63rd Annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum. February, 2011.

The Scientific Study of Stoneware. Conference “Pottery with a Past.” Williamsburg, Virginia. March 2010.

Zap It! New Approaches to Materials Identification and Treatment in the Conservation Lab. 61st Annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum. February, 2009.

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence a.k.a. XRF. Eighth Annual Meeting of the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections. September, 2007.

Caring for Your Objects. Meeting of the Early American Industries Association. Williamsburg, Virginia. April, 2006.

Conservation at Colonial Williamsburg.  Meeting of Museum Education Volunteers, Williamsburg, Virginia. April, 2003.

Spot-Plating Metal Objects. Third Annual Meeting of the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections. September, 2002.

Examination and Analysis in the Conservation Laboratory. Colonial Williamsburg Conservation Symposium, November, 2001.

Conservation of Scientific Instruments. Symposium “Working Metal in the Eighteenth Century,” the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, November, 2000.