25 years of Plenderleith lectures

This year signals the 25th anniversary of the Plenderleith lecture, and in honour of this, we look back at Dr Harold Plenderleith, widely regarded as the Father of Conservation. He was born in Dundee in 1898 and as an archaeologist was involved in the excavations of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt, Sir Leonard Woolley‘s site at Ur, and the Sutton Hoo ship burial. He went on to found the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at the British Museum in 1924. After retirement in 1959 he became the first director of the International Centre for the study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome (ICCROM) where he served until 1971. He helped set up and then served on the Council of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC) from its creation in 1950 until 1971 and was IIC’s President from 1965 to 1968. 

Plenderleith was for many years the patron and honorary Chair of the Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration (SSCR) – predecessor of Icon’s Scotland Group. Plenderleith died in 1997, and the SSCR established a successful annual public lecture in his memory starting in 1998, the centenary of his birth.

Invited speakers are leading figures in the conservation, heritage archaeology or museum and galleries world:

  • 1998 James Simpson, Simpson & Brown Architects (Glasite, Edinburgh)
  • 1999 John McIntyre, National Library of Scotland (NLS, Edinburgh)
  • 2000 Clare Meredith, FIIC, paintings conservator (Glasite, Edinburgh)
  • 2001 Professor Norman Tennent, Rijksmuseum (Glasite, Edinburgh)
  • 2002 Dr Andrew Oddy, British Museum (St Columba’s Edinburgh)
  • 2003 Dr Peter Burman, University of York  (St Columba’s Edinburgh)
  • 2004 Dr Jonathan Ashley-Smith, Victoria & Albert Museum (St Columba’s Edinburgh)
  • 2005 Dr James Tate, National Museums of Scotland (St Columba’s Edinburgh)
  • 2006 Sir John Leighton, National Galleries of Scotland (NGS, Edinburgh)
  • 2007 Sarah Staniforth, National Trust (RSE , Edinburgh)
  • 2008 Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage (RSE, Edinburgh)
  • 2009 Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum (NGS, Edinburgh)
  • 2010 Professor May Cassar, UCL (NGS, Edinburgh)
  • 2011 Dr David Mitchell, Historic Scotland (Edinburgh Castle)
  • 2012 Mark O’Neill, Glasgow Life (Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow)
  • 2013 Philip Long, V&A Dundee (Discovery, Dundee)
  • 2014 Gael de Guichen, ICCROM (RCPSE Edinburgh)
  • 2015 Professor Sue Black, Dundee University (Discovery, Dundee)
  • 2016 Neil Brodie, Trafficking Culture project  (St Mungo’s Glasgow)
  • 2017 Helen Shenton, British Library (NGS Edinburgh)
  • 2018 David Saunders, British Museum (Discovery Centre, Dundee) 
  • 2019 Liz Davidson OBE, Glasgow School of Arts (The Lighthouse, Glasgow)
  • 2020 Euan Leitch, Built Environment Forum Scotland (Online, Zoom)
  • 2021 Sir Geoff Palmer OBE, Heriot-Watt University (Online, Zoom)
  • 2022 Dr Richard Mulholland, Northumbria University (City Art Centre, Edinburgh)

The lecture is usually held on the last Thursday in November each year at a venue in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee. There is still time to book your ticket for this year’s lecture here.


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