Senior Scientist, Science
Tom Learner is the head of contemporary art research at the GCI. He came on staff in January 2007 after a number of years of working with the Institute as a partner at Tate in London, on the GCI's collaborative modern paints research project.
Tom became interested in conservation during his chemistry studies at Oxford University, and while obtaining his master's degree, he did volunteer work at the university's Ashmolean Museum, where he could see the application of science to the work of conservation. After graduation in 1988, he earned a postgraduate diploma in the conservation of easel paintings at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London; he followed these studies with an internship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, that was split between scientific research and hands-on paintings conservation.
In 1992 Tom became a Leverhulme research fellow in conservation science at the Tate Gallery, concurrent with his PhD studies at Birkbeck College. His thesis focused on the characterization of acrylic and other twentieth-century painting materials. Four years later, he took a regular position at Tate, ultimately becoming their senior conservation scientist.
Tom came to the GCI to head up a new section on contemporary art research, which will continue work on modern paints while exploring expansion into other areas. As part of that exploration, he is planning a meeting of international experts to consider current priorities in the conservation of contemporary art. He is also working on the planning of "The Object in Transition," a joint GCI—Getty Research Institute conference on the preservation and study of modern and contemporary art, to be held in January 2008 at the Getty Center.