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
Preserving an Icon: The History and Conservation of the Spirit of St. Louis, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Montreal, Quebec.
Unexpected Trajectories: Tracing the Evolution of Hardware Used in Space Exploration to Revered Museum Artifacts, Extreme Conservation, Symposium, Bard Graduate Center, NY, NY.
“Flak-Bait” The Conservation of a National Icon, The Revs Institute Biennial Symposium, paper presented, Naples, FL
The History and Future of Aluminum Conservation Efforts at NASM, “Aluminum: History, Technology and Conservation Workshop” Chantilly, VA
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
The Conservation of Historic Clocks, Early American Industries Association, Regional Meeting, Aldie, VA
The Care of Automotive Finishes and Why, From an Atomic Level, chapter in The Revs Institute symposium publication for “Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car”.
Reversible Techniques and Conservation Practice, chapter in The Revs Institute symposium publication for “Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car”.
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
Hand, Head and Heart: Principles of Preservation and Restoration, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, Washington DC, paper presented.
Flying High, Riding Low: Differences Between Aircraft and Automobile Conservation, Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car Symposium, The Collier Automotive Museum, Naples, FL.
Goals of Preservation: Responsible Utilization of Historic Automobiles, Simeone Museum Symposium, paper presented.
Dayton Wright RB Racer, Skyways, The Journal of the Airplane 1920-1940, Article.
Responsible Utilization: Balancing a Conservator’s Obligations with Society’s Expectations, Defining Museum Ethics Conference, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.
Saving Historic Aircraft: Challenges and Choices, Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums, San Diego, CA, discussion panel member.
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.
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.
The Care of Agricultural and Industrial Machinery and Equipment, Olmsted County Historical Society, MN, conducted two-day seminar.
Restoration of the 1920 Dayton-Wright, RB-1 Racer, The Society of Air Racing Historians, Cleveland, OH, paper presented.
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.
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.
The Conservation of an Early Simon Willard Banjo Clock, United Kingdom Institute for Conservation Conference, The British Museum, London, England, paper presented.