Conservation Engen Conservation Chair and Chief Conservator

Malcolm Collum is the Engen Conservation Chair and has been the Chief Conservator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum since 2008. Trained as a conservator of fine art, Collum applies the same preservation philosophies and methodologies utilized in the art world towards the conservation of historic technological artifacts. He has a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from SUNY, Buffalo, New York. Collum also studied at the National Museum of Science and Industry (London, England), The Denver Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1996, Collum took a position at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village where he became senior conservator and was responsible for the automotive, aviation, horological, paintings, and scientific instrument collections.

In his current position at the National Air and Space Museum, he works with conservators, curators, and restoration specialists to devise appropriate preservation methodologies for aerospace artifacts in the national collection. His goal is to highlight the benefits of technical analysis and conservation research and to merge this work into the more traditional realms of restoration. Collum has conducted numerous seminars, written several articles, and frequently lectures on ethical concerns and other unique issues related to preserving historic technology.


Workshops, Lectures, and Publications

March 2016               
Preserving an Icon: The History and Conservation of the Spirit of St. Louis, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Montreal, Quebec.

February 2015           
Unexpected Trajectories: Tracing the Evolution of Hardware Used in Space Exploration to Revered Museum Artifacts, Extreme Conservation, Symposium, Bard Graduate Center, NY, NY.

March 2015               
Flak-Bait” The Conservation of a National Icon, The Revs Institute Biennial Symposium, paper presented, Naples, FL

March 2014               
The History and Future of Aluminum Conservation Efforts at NASM, “Aluminum: History, Technology and Conservation Workshop” Chantilly, VA

April 2014                 
The Challenges of Conserving Technological Artifacts and Negotiating Ethical Considerations Regarding Use, Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation, 40th Annual Conference, Buffalo, NY

May 2014                  
The Conservation of Historic Clocks, Early American Industries Association, Regional Meeting, Aldie, VA

March 2013               
The Care of Automotive Finishes and Why, From an Atomic Level, chapter in The Revs Institute symposium publication for “Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car”. 

March 2013               
Reversible Techniques and Conservation Practice, chapter in The Revs Institute symposium publication for “Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car”.

April 2013                 
Blend and Balance, A Conservator’s Perspective, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Seattle, WA.

The Stewardship of Historically Significant Automobiles, co-author, Coachbuilt Press, Philadelphia, PA

April 2012                 
Hand, Head and Heart: Principles of Preservation and Restoration, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Washington DC, paper presented.

March 2010               
Flying High, Riding Low: Differences Between Aircraft and Automobile Conservation, Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car Symposium, The Collier Automotive Museum, Naples, FL.

March 2010               
Goals of Preservation: Responsible Utilization of Historic Automobiles, Simeone Museum Symposium, paper presented.

April 2010                  
Dayton Wright RB Racer, Skyways, The Journal of the Airplane 1920-1940, Article.

November 2008         
Responsible Utilization: Balancing a Conservator’s Obligations with Society’s Expectations, Defining Museum Ethics Conference, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.

April 2007                 
Saving Historic Aircraft: Challenges and Choices, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, San Diego, CA, discussion panel member.

May 2007                  
Who’s Driving? Exploring the Decision Making Process for 

Operating Historic Motorized Vehicles
, AAM Annual Conference, Chicago, IL and the AIC Annual Conference, Providence, RI, paper presented.

March 2005               
Whadaya mean ya wanna hang it upside down? Solving Problems and Building a New Aviation Exhibit at The Henry Ford Museum, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Seattle, WA, paper co-presented.

August 2004              
The Care of Agricultural and Industrial Machinery and Equipment, Olmsted County Historical Society, MN, conducted two-day seminar.

March 2004               
Restoration of the 1920 Dayton-Wright, RB-1 Racer, The Society of Air Racing Historians, Cleveland, OH, paper presented.

June 2002                  
Conserving the Wright Brothers’ 1905 Flyer III, The Annual Conference of the American Institute for Conservation, Miami, FL, paper co-authored and presented.

Conservation of Agricultural Machinery, Chippewa Valley Museum, Eau Claire, WI, conducted one-day workshop.

Fall 1998-1999       
Maintaining Historic Motorized Vehicles in Museum Collections, National Park Service, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, conducted five-day workshop.

Preparing Historic Motorized Vehicles For Storage or Exhibit, National Park Service, Conserve-O-Gram, No. 10/3.  Author.

April 1995                 
The Conservation of an Early Simon Willard Banjo Clock, United Kingdom Institute for Conservation Conference, The British Museum, London, England, paper presented.      

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