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Nicolas Dorman

Jane Lang Davis Chief Conservator, Seattle Art Museum


What inspires meNick Dorman

MANY things inspire me- friends and family, and my dog, nature, gardening, bees, books, travel, music- all the usual things! Challenges inspire me- as does building something: The charge to establish SAM’s conservation program and our Neukom conservation studio drew me here; many amazing projects since then kept things interesting. The big inspiration is the art. Each painting unfolds over time, sometimes quietly, sometimes in incredible ways, during the course of conservation. That special encounter with the art, and with the tools and materials, is a privilege, as is knowing that your work will benefit current and future audiences.


I grew up in England and loved going to museums as a kid (Bowes Museum, British Museum, and I always remember the costumed fleas at the Natural History Museum at Tring). After my Master’s studies, I moved abroad to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich for several years, to the Met in New York, to a collective studio in Amsterdam, and back to Munich, before founding SAM’s conservation department in 2001. SAM has grown so much since then, and it is wonderful to have played a part in building a team and a program and helping to raise the profile of conservation at SAM and in the region. Recent fun projects include establishing the new Tateuchi Asian paintings conservation studio at the Asian Art Museum and building a new X-radiography facility at SAM.


I oversee the conservation team and preservation activities at SAM and I’m a paintings conservator. I work on easel paintings, from old masters to contemporary works.


Renaissance Art in Focus- Neri di Bicci and Devotional Painting in Italy. Exhibition catalog co-authored with Elizabeth Darrow, introduction by Chiyo Ishikawa, Seattle Art Museum, 2004.

Earthquake Mitigation at the Seattle Art Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007.A Slightly Odd-Shaped Room. The Italian Room at the Seattle Art Museum; Collaborating to get the Job Done, with James Boorstein, AIC Wooden Artifacts Group Postprints, 2008.

Materials, Technique, and the Master’s Hand: The Seattle Venus and Adonis, with Katie Patton from Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice. Edited by Virginia Brilliant and Frederick Ilchman, Ringling Museum, Sarasota, 2012.

Reviews of Cleaning Acrylic Painted Surfaces, and Conserving Canvas conferences, Western Association for Art Conservation newsletter, 2013, 2019.