In Memoriam


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Joan Ethel Gardner Day (1935 – 2019)

Joan Gardner was born in Marianna, Florida, to Francis and Eula Strickland. She attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, graduating in 1957 with a degree in education. Joan was proud of the fact that she mastered the flying trapezes at the Flying High Circus while in college. She taught 5th through 8th grades at various schools, then worked as a social worker as well as a technician in the Department of Anatomy in the J. Hillis School of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida. Once she became a conservator, she was renowned for her innovative treatment of archaeological and ethnographic materials during her long career at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (the Carnegie).

I first met Joan in 1963, when her husband William (Bill) M. Gardner and I were enrolled in the PhD program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Joan and my wife Judy taught school in the local schools while supporting their husband’s degrees in archaeology, and they became close friends. Bill accepted a faculty position at The Catholic University of America where he became well known for his research at the Thunderbird site in Virginia. Upon their divorce, Joan entered the conservation program of The George Washington University where she attained her MA degree in 1979. During her time in Washington, DC, she interned in the Anthropology Department at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, where she worked as a technician inventorying archaeological metals from North America, textiles from Peru and Asia, and developing inventory data procedures for the ethnographic collections. She became close friends with Dr. Clifford Evans and Dr. Betty Meggers while conducting the analysis of archaeological textiles from Ecuador. Joan also worked with Dr. Mary Elizabeth King and Dr. Robert E. Bell on conserving the Spiro Mound collections at the Smithsonian and University of Oklahoma.

In 1979 Joan was hired as the first conservator at the Carnegie; Director Dr. Craig Black suggested that I court her for the position as chief curator of the museum at the time. Joan was critical to the development of Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt and Alcoa Hall of American Indians, and she treated hundreds of artifacts for each hall. Throughout her 21 years there, she continuously augmented her professional knowledge and expertise through programs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Getty Institute. Joan received numerous grants from NSF, NEH, and IMLS for conservation projects at the Carnegie. She published 15 articles and reports on conservation of textiles and artifacts from archaeological sites in Pennsylvania excavated by staff and research associates of the museum and the University of Pittsburgh. She also performed numerous assessments for other museums, universities and historical societies. After her retirement in 2000, she became an independent conservator and worked at various museums in the Southeast.

Joan was a kind-hearted person and became a part of our family as Aunty Joan, but when she requested a meeting with me about problems relating to conservation, I always asked: “who am I speaking with Joan or Tessy Trench Mouth?” – needless to say I lost every argument. At her 50th high school reunion in Marianna she was reacquainted with her classmate James R. Day, whom she soon married and moved with to Thomasville, Georgia. Joan leaves a son, Benjamin A. Gardner of Thomasville, and four grandchildren. Her husband Jim Day predeceased her.

—James R. Richardson, curator Emeritus, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA


Carl Patterson (1945 – 2020)

Carl Patterson passed away peacefully at his home in Denver, Colorado, February 16, 2020. Carl was born during WWII in Jackson, Mississippi, where his parents were stationed. As soon as they could, the Patterson’s returned to Lynchburg, Virginia, where Carl joined the many generations of Virginians that were his family and he was proud to be among them.

A graduate of Duke University, Carl was a pre-med student, majoring in zoology with a very special interest in art history. He was among the students at Duke who participated in archaeological excavations at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, England, during the summer months and through this experience, he discovered conservation. Carl applied and was accepted to the University of London, Institute of Archaeology and received a Diploma in Conservation in 1970.

Immediately following graduation, Carl worked at the British Museum in the Western Asiatic Antiquities department with Celestine Ludovici for nine months. In September 1970, he became the conservator at the Horniman Museum in London. While there, his duties ranged from inventorying and cataloguing, collection management, to conservation treatment – all the while committed to training interns.

In 1979, Carl returned to the US and joined the staff at the Rocky Mountain Regional Conservation Center at the University of Denver. In 1984, he became the Director, overseeing the staff, cultivating projects, and training interns. By 1990, Carl was hired by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where he implemented collection management procedures for the vast holdings. The following year Carl became the first conservator at the Denver Art Museum. Over the next 18 years, he would serve as Director of Collection Services and Director of Conservation, outfit three conservation laboratories and consolidate collection storage into discrete purpose-built areas, undertake collection surveys, as well as play a key role in the design and opening of the Hamilton Building. Instrumental in elevating and expanding the conservation department, acquiring equipment, and improving storage, Carl was immensely creative in his ability to write grants and raise funds. He both guided and inspired the paths of dozens of students, interns, and fellows. In addition, Carl had a cadre of devoted volunteers who worked tirelessly with him over the years. In 2009, Carl retired as Director Emeritus of Conservation.

Carl was active in numerous professional organizations including International Institute for Conservation, IIC-UK Group, the Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration, American Institute for Conservation, Western Association Art Conservation, the Colorado Wyoming Associations of Museums, Mountain Plains Museums Association, the Greenwood Fund, among others. Over a span of thirty years, his publications and presentations mirrored his encyclopedic expertise and experience.

Carl’s intelligence, charm, generosity, and warm smile were the reasons so many people readily connected with him throughout his life and career. These qualities remain the embodiment of his goodwill and commitment to conservation and friendship – often one in the same.

Donations may be made to the Carl Patterson Emergency Response Fund of the Colorado Wyoming Associations of Museums (CWAM),  Please check the CWAM website for a donation button.   https://www.cwam-us.org/

—Sarah Melching, sarahmelching@denverartmuseum.org


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