GCI News
Eric F. Hansen (1949–2016)
Eric F. Hansen

Eric F. Hansen, a former member of the Getty Conservation Institute’s Science department staff, died in September after a long illness.

Eric joined the GCI in its very early days, hired as a research assistant in 1985 after earning degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering. Two years later he was made an assistant scientist, in 1989 he became an associate scientist, and in 2000 he was promoted to scientist. Eric’s early Institute research focused on accelerated-aging testing of certain polymers for use in conservation and on investigating the optimal relative humidity conditions for long-term storage of materials that contain collagen and skin. He subsequently studied the problems of consolidating matte paint, particularly on ethnographic objects, and he codeveloped and edited a special supplement to Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts on that subject. Later he headed a GCI scientific research project, Lime Mortars and Plasters, which focused on the study of the fundamental characteristics of lime. His work in this area grew out of his long interest in the Maya and the dissertation research he conducted at the site of Nakbe in Guatemala. His study of the technology used for plaster and stucco production in late preclassic Maya sites was at the core of his PhD in archaeology, which he received from UCLA in 1992.

Eric served on the board of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the Western Association for Art Conservation and was one of the founders of the Research and Technical Studies Group of the AIC. In 2006 he received the President’s Award for his contributions to the conservation profession at the AIC annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

After over twenty years at the GCI, Eric retired in 2006 and moved to Washington, DC, to become the chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division of the Library of Congress; there he oversaw the increase in scientific staff and the remodeling of the division’s laboratories. When his tenure at the Library of Congress was over he returned to Los Angeles, where he served as a consultant to the conservation department of the Museums of New Mexico and joined the advisory committee for the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden’s historic section.

Eric was a highly valued colleague and friend of many at the GCI and throughout the conservation field. His persistence in serving the field even while confronting illness is a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm for his work that he displayed throughout his career. We celebrate that work as we mourn his loss.