Julie Lawson

Julie Lawson Photo credit: Mark Stehle

WHO SHE IS: Assistant Conservator, Penn Museum

YEARS AT PENN: 8 years. “Nine,” Lawson adds, “if you count internships.”

WHAT SHE DOES: As a museum conservator, Lawson is responsible for helping keep the museum’s varied collections in top shape. She works to return ancient artifacts to (near) original condition, and fixes new problems as those artifacts undergo wear and tear.

INTIMIDATING?: Lawson says she doesn’t feel much pressure working with ancient, highly valuable objects—it’s just part of the job. “That’s the whole attraction of this,” she says. “But you have to give the objects a healthy amount of respect. You have want to learn everything there is to learn about the material you’re working with, and the culture that it’s from. You have to educate yourself before you actually work on it.”

FAVORITE COLLECTION: The Museum’s Etruscan and Roman collections include some favorites, but Lawson says the most interesting objects she ever worked on were the Seven Clay Coffins from Nippur. These rare and unique coffins were discovered during Penn’s Babylonian Expedition in the late 19th century—the first Penn expedition held outside the United States.

Originally published on November 1, 2007