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First Fellow of Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (NZCFS) is a Conservator

Diana Coop, Conservator, is first Fellow of the prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust-NZCFS Fellowship
Diana Coop, Conservator, is first Fellow of the prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust-NZCFS Fellowship

In June 2016, the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS) joined with the prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which awards annual Fellowships to Kiwis who wish to progress in their chosen field in helping peoples overseas.

The Fellowship involving NZCFS specifies that this particular Fellowship be for travel to China to gain knowledge, understanding and experience of Chinese culture and values whilst also sharing NZ culture and values in China.

This year’s Fellowship winner, indeed the first, was recently announced with Diana Coop being the successful applicant.

Diana will now be able to follow her wish to open a collegial exchange, i.e. an exchange between experts in her field, in order to provide improved professional relationships between New Zealand and Chinese conservators of cultural materials. Many exhibitions of cultural materials are presently being organised by both countries with a view to exchange. However, little is known about the other country’s conservation working practices, techniques and skills, with this being often further complicated by language barriers.

Diana intends to travel to four Chinese main centres, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Beijing to meet material conservators in 19 major cultural institutions, where she hopes to investigate and build an understanding  of Chinese technical practices.

Her visits to art galleries, museums, libraries and history museums, will include Shanghai Museum; Palace Museum Beijing and the National Library of China. From these Diana will be able to report on protocols and standards used by Chinese conservators that should help to facilitate the organisation of future cultural exchanges involving the loan of art and other cultural materials and assist conservators and other cultural professionals to understand Chinese practices.  The report will help professionals to make decisions on how Chinese cultural materials coming to New Zealand and vice versa can be protected, delivered and exhibited in a safe way and to return them to their place of origin with the minimum of difficulty.

This would avoid issues such as:

  • Renegotiation of loan conditions
  • Issues including poor packaging and framing necessitating intervention by local conservators
  • Incorrect display of objects due to misunderstanding of Chinese customs

Diana’s project will help to clarify the standards and expectations for all parties and assist considerably in the loan processes between China and NZ cultural institutions.

Diana Coop is a qualified practising professional conservator with a BAppSc in the conservation of cultural materials. She runs her own paper conservation studio Diana Coop Conservation in Wellington serving the museums, gallery, library and archives sector as well as private collectors.  Diana is president of the NZ Conservators of Cultural Materials, Pū Manaaki Kahurangi (NZCCM). She also has Mandarin skills having lived in China for several years.

We wish Diana all success in her project and look forward to receiving her report.   She also plans to send her report to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the NZ Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the NZ Ministry of Internal Affairs, and also write a paper for the NZCCM as well as for Museums Aotearoa conferences to share information and findings.

For the press release announcing Diana Coop’s Fellowship, by the NZ Ministry of Internal Affairs, which administers the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (NZ), click here.