Gilchrest to direct Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage

Alison Gilchrest
Alison Gilchrest (Photo by Dan Renzetti)

Alison Gilchrest, who for over a decade has led national and international initiatives to promote collaboration in the field of cultural heritage conservation, has been appointed as the new director of Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH), effective today. The appointment was announced by Susan Gibbons, vice provost for collections & scholarly communication and chief of staff to the president.

Gilchrest joined IPCH in January 2020 as its inaugural director of applied research and outreach. In that role she has facilitated research, training, and professional development collaborations between the institute and other cultural heritage institutions, focusing on building Yale’s relationships on the African continent. She came to Yale from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she oversaw the largest private grantmaking program for cultural heritage in the United States.

Alison is a gifted leader in the cultural heritage domain and will draw on her expansive knowledge of museums, conservation, heritage science, and philanthropic partnerships as we evolve the IPCH,” said Gibbons.

As Gilchrest begins her directorship, IPCH is poised to assume an expanded identity and mission as the collaborative interdisciplinary hub of preservation and conservation treatment, research, and programs. Strengthening the identity and impact of conservation is one of several initiatives underway within the university designed to reflect a more intentional approach to cross-collection collaboration.

Growing the collaboration across Yale’s libraries, museums, and special collections is a priority so that we can better connect these resources with the university’s mission of research, scholarship, education, preservation, and practice,” Gibbons said. “Alison will bring her vision and expertise to this expanded activation of conservation programming across campus while continuing to amplify the work of our campus experts within the global heritage community.”   

Yale’s collections are among the largest and most significant of any university, ranging across global art and artifacts, natural history, and libraries, archives, and special collections. A renewed and enlarged IPCH will serve as a collaborative hub to further support the work of the conservators, scientists, and researchers across the university who are dedicated to preserving and studying collections. In addition to conservation treatment and research, IPCH plans to grow its teaching, learning, and mentorship programs that engage students, faculty, and experts from across campus and around the globe.

IPCH is home to some of the most talented and dedicated cultural heritage professionals I have had the privilege to work with,” said Gilchrest. “I am excited by this unparalleled opportunity to shine a brighter light on their contributions by growing the institute’s capacity and collaborative potential.”

Gilchrest will work with the leadership of the university’s museums, libraries, and special collections to facilitate collaboration.

All of us at the art gallery look forward to collaborating with Alison and her team at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage,” said Stephanie Wiles, the Henry J Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery. “IPCH is an important nexus for Yale’s collections, and we are excited to enhance our work together to offer teaching, fellowship, and internship opportunities that will provide outstanding contributions to the field of conservation.”

As director of applied research and outreach, Gilchrest helped launch the IPCH Directors Forum, a program that provides leaders and entrepreneurs working in Africa’s cultural sector a trusted platform to connect, learn, and collaborate with each other. She has stewarded Yale’s special partnership with the University of Pretoria’s Tangible Heritage Conservation Program, which is dedicated to preserving South Africa’s cultural heritage. She played a pivotal role in organizing and bringing important Yale contributions to the 2020-21 Global Consortium for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (GCPCH), which included commissioning a study on “Reclaiming African Heritage for the Post-Covid Era” by Denise Lim ’20 Ph.D., which chronicled the pandemic’s effect on Africa’s emerging conservation infrastructure.

Prior to her work at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Gilchrest also held positions in conservation and curatorial departments of the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her research and technical studies have been featured in numerous books, catalogues, and journal articles. She holds an MSIS degree with a concentration in museum information systems from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from Bryn Mawr College.

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Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,