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My Friend, the Mad Scientist

Donald Williams is one of my heroes. As the senior furniture conservator at the Smithsonian Institute for many years (now retired), he has been instrumental in shaping the field of conservation and training many of our nation’s foremost practitioners. Despite the fact that his experience and acumen are far beyond most anyone I’ve ever met, he’s a down-to-earth guy, eager to converse with craftspeople at all levels. For many years Don’s graciously welcomed me into his life as a mentor. He’s advised me through my meager furniture conservation efforts, supported me through my research into the furniture making of Jonathan Fisher, and remained a friend over the years M&T has developed. We regularly exchange emails, but I hadn’t seen him...

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A Furniture Conservation Primer from Don Williams: Issue Two Table of Contents

Art conservation is one of those disciplines that can be shrouded in mystery. When famous paintings or buildings are restored, it gets published in the New York Times. The public oohs and ahhs at the magic of restoring a relic from hundreds or thousands of years ago back to its former glory. Conservation projects like these are exciting because it’s the closest thing we have to time travel. It’s the only place that the authentic past is revived in the present before our very eyes. As the senior furniture conservator of the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, Don Williams has been routinely entrusted with restoring some of our nation’s most significant cultural artifacts. Considered by colleagues the “inimitable” Don Williams, he...

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