Ms Gill Comerford

Gill Comerford
  • Conservator
  • Science Facilities department
  • Conservation Centre
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD

Biography

Employment history

1994 to present

Conservator - Palaeontology Conservation Unit (The Conservation Centre), NHM

1990 to 1994

Research Assistant - Human Origins Group, Palaeontology Department, NHM 

1986 to 1990

Preparator and Replicator - Palaeontology Department, NHM 

1983 to 1985

Curator - Palaeontology Department, NHM

Qualifications

1984 to 1987

HNC in Geological Technology,  South London College

Professional Roles

  • Health and Safety Coordinator
  • Secretary for the Museum's Conservation Group
  • Membership Secretary for Prospect

Areas of responsibility

My current responsibilities include:

  • providing a Museum-wide integrated environmental monitoring system
  • improving collection storage for the human remains collections
  • investigating the incidence of mould and analysing the mould residues on specimens.

Curation

Conservation

My main role and area of expertise is in preventive conservation of collections. All aspects of preventive conservation are of interest as they are fundamental to long term preservation of collections. Preserving collections for future generations in a sustainable manner is an important goal for the Museum.

Collections Monitoring

The collection is dependent largely upon the conditions within which it is stored and the manner in which it is handled. Light, relative humidity and temperature are important factors that can affect the stability of a collection. In order to maintain a stable environment these parameters must be measured and stored for analysis. With this aim in mind the Museum has a site wide telemetric monitoring system that not only measures, light, relative humidity and temperature but other factors such as oxygen, flood and power.

My role has been to lead the project across all our Museum sites, to work with the software programmer to develop a system that best suits our collection and the way we work. To date on the system we have 367 transmitters. This enables conservation staff to view the conditions in the collection areas remotely. The data is live and archived so graphs can be plotted and trends observed and reported upon easily.

Storage of Human Remains - the Poundbury Collection

The Poundbury series of human remains is currently being restored with the help of volunteers. This collection forms part of the British Isles Human Comparative Collection. It has been identified as a very high priority for specialist conservation and restorage work as it is in almost continuous use by visiting researchers. It is our aim to house all collections according to best practice and the Natural History Museum's collection management protocols. With this aim in mind we have developed unique storage systems to ensure minimal handling of the collection.

Publications

Comerford, G., Lindsay, W., Tilleard, S., Breckon, R. and Cornish, L. (2007) A Museum Collection Environment through Thirty Years. The Conservator, volume 31 2008 17 – 30.

Comerford, G., Cornish, L., Lindsay, W. and Milner, A.C. (2007) Operating without anaesthetic - building around the collections. Building for the Future: Museums of the 21st Century, SPNHC 2007, Minnesota.

Lindsay, W., Comerford, G., Tilleard, S. and Breckon, R. (2007) Diagnosing a ‘sick’ building. Building for the Future: Museums of the 21st Century, SPNHC 2007, Minnesota.

Cornish, L. and Comerford, G. (2005) Conservation of Geological Material. 373-380. In Selley, R. C., Cocks, R. L. M. and Plimer, I. R. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Geology, Volume 1. Elsevier, Oxford.

Bolton, F., Comerford, G., O'Dwyer, D. and Ratcliffe, P. R. (2004) The Collection Survey: linking observation to cause across disparate collections. NatSCA News, 4.