Ellen Pearlstein Awarded Rome Prize by the American Academy in Rome

UCLA scholar to work on project on Indigenous American materials held in Italian collections; serves on national council to evaluate U.S. conservation infrastructure.

Ellen Pearlstein, UCLA professor of information studies and founding faculty member of the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, has been awarded the Suzanne Deal Booth Rome Prize by the American Academy, to work on her project, “Conservation consultation around Indigenous American materials— the view from Europe.” The 35 American and five Italian artists and scholars who are winners of this year’s Rome Prize each receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus in Rome, starting in September 2021. One of three awardees in the Historic Preservation and Conservation category, Pearlstein has taken the six-month residency option, in order to fulfill her commitments to teaching at UCLA. 

Established in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is America’s oldest overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the arts and humanities. The eleven disciplines supported by the Academy are: ancient studies, architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, medieval studies, modern Italian studies, music composition, Renaissance and early modern studies, and visual arts.

“It is such an honor to be selected to spend this time at the Academy with an illustrious group of artists, writers, architects, musicians and others in the humanities,” says Professor Pearlstein. “I am looking forward to being behind the scenes in museums, not only in Rome but elsewhere in Europe. I am also looking forward to eating some wonderful meals, drinking some excellent wine, and wandering many beautiful streets steeped in history and beauty.”

While in residence at the Academy, Pearlstein will pursue research to enable her to explore how museums that have been historically detached from the communities whose cultures they exhibit find ways to access these communities and  culturally appropriate museum practices. The residency will enable her to work with the Vatican Museum and the Luigi Pigorini National Prehistoric Ethnographic Museum, two Italian institutions with major Indigenous American holdings. 

Pearlstein has recently been appointed to the national advisory council for the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, and will help to advise on a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to evaluate the current national infrastructure in conservation and make recommendations to strengthen preservation of cultural heritage for present and future generations.

Professor Pearlstein serves as principal investigator for a project that aims to increase diversity in the conservation field, supported by the Mellon Foundation. This project invites students from  the University of California and the California State University, as well as institutions across the country with large populations of underrepresented students, including the Institute for Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, to participate in a bootcamp workshop followed up by internships preparing them for graduate study. 

In 2009, Pearlstein was honored with the Sheldon and Caroline Keck Award for distinguished teaching and mentoring from the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). She is a fellow of both AIC and the International Institute for Conservation.

For more information on Professor Pearlstein and the UCLA Interdepartmental Program in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, visit this link.