Program Coordinator, Training

Conservation image

After growing up in southern Queensland, Australia, Valerie Dorge traveled to Canada, where she planned to spend a year. One year turned into 25. She lived in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, working in a variety of fields, including fashion, travel and entertainment, real estate, and, ultimately, conservation.

During her four years as an executive assistant at Canada's National Museum of Man, she enrolled in the museum technology program at Algonquin College. In 1980 she was selected for the Mobile Laboratory internship program at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) and became part of a team of CCI staff and contract conservators that traveled throughout the country to assist museums, galleries, and historical centers with conservation treatment, training, and advocacy. Afterward, she joined the CCI as a conservator of furniture and wooden objects, remaining there for the next nine years. During this period she completed her degree in museum technology and then earned a degree in material culture studies from Carleton University. In 1987 she was the recipient of a Mellon fellowship in polychromed sculpture conservation at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In her last years at the CCI, she used vacation time to work as a conservator on the Gordion Furniture Project in Turkey, researching and conserving this collection of ancient furniture from the Phrygian civilization.

In November 1992 she joined the GCI Training Program. Since then she has developed and coordinated a number of courses, including "Pest Management and Control for Museums" and "Analytical Techniques in Conservation," and served as program chair for a 1994 AIC conference on the history and conservation of painted wood (the proceedings of which she is coediting). She particularly enjoyed her involvement in the GCI project on the conservation of the bas-reliefs of the Royal Palaces of Abomey, for which she organized the training component and contributed general conservation assistance.

As GCI team leader for a new collaborative project with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History—the conservation of the Yanhuitlán retablo—she is pleased to be using a full range of skills that include not only conservation and training but also project design and management. She counts among her personal highlights selling her first painting, hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, and moving to the warm climate of California.