Born into a family whose Spanish ancestors arrived in Cuba in the early 18th century, Alberto Tagle spent his childhood in Havana. In high school he first developed an interest in painting, architecture, and archaeology—interests that would later lead him to conservation.
He also enjoyed science and laboratory work. After high school, he studied at the Bergakademie Freiberg in Saxony, Germany, where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in analytical chemistry. He returned to Cuba in 1972 and served for the next 10 years as head of inorganic instrumental analysis at the National Center for Scientific Research. There he continued working on a Ph.D. in atomic spectroscopy, which the TH Merseburg awarded him in 1980.
In 1982 the Cuban Ministry of Culture asked him to head up scientific research and fine art conservation at the newly established National Center for Conservation, Restoration, and Museology. He welcomed this opportunity to combine his interest in the arts with his scientific background, and he created an interdisciplinary group that included conservators, historians, and scientists whose work focused on fine arts and architecture materials. He also lectured on colonial decorative paintings at the University of Havana; he was the only scientist to teach a course in the art department.
Alberto, along with his wife and sons, left Cuba for Europe in 1990. The next year he came to the United States to teach advanced conservation science at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1992 he was appointed head of the analytical laboratories at the Winterthur Museum and Gardens in Delaware and adjunct associate professor in the Art Conservation Program at the University of Delaware. There he worked on objects from the museum's collections and other institutions while continuing to teach in Philadelphia.
In 1995 he arrived at the GCI to head the scientific program; he was excited by the opportunity to work in a conservation institution not tied primarily to the needs of a specific collection. Since then his efforts have included encouraging greater interdisciplinary work within the Institute and more collaborations with outside organizations. He looks forward to conducting more systematic studies of the deterioration mechanisms of materials, developing appropriate conservation approaches, and, on a personal note, completing the renovation of his 1920s California bungalow.