New Head of School of Conservation

Shayne Rivers MA (RCA), a world renowned expert in the conservation of furniture and Asian lacquer, joins West Dean College as Head of Conservation, after 16 years at the Victoria & Albert Museum where she was Senior Conservator, responsible for collections care and conservation. This is a new strategic role for the College intended to ensure that West Dean continues to be at the forefront of conservation in the UK and internationally. Shayne will be key in developing the Collections Care and Management programme over the next year and in the longer term, implementing the school's research strategy.

Rivers began her furniture conservation training at the College in 1991 and completed an MA, specialising in furniture and decorative surfaces, at the Royal College of Art in 1998. Widely published, with an acknowledged reputation for high quality research, Rivers co-edited and contributed to Conservation of Furniture (2003), now considered the definitive text in the field. In 2011 she was a contributing co-editor for the book East Asian Lacquer: Material Culture, Science, Conservation, which incorporated groundbreaking articles by Rivers on the deterioration and conservation of Japanese lacquer. She has also authored more than 15 conservation-related peer-reviewed articles on subjects as wide ranging as casein plastic, cross-cultural ethics and painted surfaces. From 2005 - 2010 Rivers had an advisory role for five chemistry, mechanical engineering and conservation PhDs at Imperial College London, Loughborough University and the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts Conservation. A recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) case study that included one of these PhDs achieved a 3* rating 'with aspects of outstanding impact'.

Explore Categories

At the forefront

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College and is an external PhD Supervisor with the University of Arts, London. Rivers says she intends to strengthen existing courses and expand the range to meet the changing demands in the heritage sector while developing collaborative research partnerships that ensure the College remains at the forefront of conservation education. West Dean College is internationally renowned for teaching in Conservation and 89% of students stated reputation was the reason they chose to study at tAt teh forefronthe College. Conservation students gain hands-on experience working on unique and often rare objects from acclaimed collections. Many graduates go on to work in some of the world's finest institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Maritime Museum, The British Museum and Imperial War Museum, or establish their own conservation practice.



  • Rivers, S. 2005 On the Conservation of the Mazarin Chest in The Role of Urushi in International Exchange: 27th International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property Conference Postprints, TNRICP/TNM pp. 150-158.
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education

Help preserve our future

West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

Find out how you can help support us