Ellen Carrlee received an M.A. in Art History and Diploma in Conservation from New York University in 2000, specializing in ethnographic and archaeological objects.  She then completed a Mellon Fellowship at the National Museum of the American Indian.  Her research there, “Does Low Temperature Pest Management Cause Damage?” was presented at the AIC annual meeting in 2002 in Miami and published in JAIC in 2003. She became Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in 2001 and maintained a private conservation practice for several years.  She and her

husband presented “Influence of Early Ethnographic Conservation in Alaska”

at the 2003 AIC meeting in Arlington, and Ellen presented “Conservation and Exhibit of

an Archaeological Fish Trap” at the 2006 AIC meeting in Providence.  She was on the board of Museums Alaska, the state association for museum professionals, from 2004-2006, serving on the Program Planning Committee for the statewide conference from 2003-2006 and the Host Committee in 2006.  Ellen became an AIC Professional Associate and the Conservator at the Alaska State Museum in 2006.



Ellen grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and most of her family remains in that area.  She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison as an undergraduate art history student, living in a large commune on Lake Medota near campus.  In graduate school, she lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the upper East side of Manhattan; Corning, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; and Sardis, Turkey.  Following graduation, she lived in the Georgetown area of Washington DC for a year until moving to Juneau, Alaska in the fall of 2001.  Ellen Roblee and Scott Carroll (1992 graduate of the Buffalo conservation program) eloped August 1, 2001 and legally combined their last names a few months later to become “Carrlee.”  Son Carson Orion Carrlee was born August 20, 2007.  They live in a little red house in downtown Juneau with their mutt ZigZag. 


8 Responses to Bio

  1. Jenny says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I hope I don’t come off too bold. I was browsing online for more information about art conservation since I am interested in going into this field. I have a B.A. in chemistry from Cornell and have always loved art, both admiring art and practicing. I would like to discuss more with you about your path and also see if you have suggestions on how to blaze my own.


  2. ellencarrlee says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I’m popping back onto the blog since others might find it interesting…we were chatting a bit over email regarding your concern about finding some pre-program experience when you haven’t had art history or studio art classes. The graduate programs require studio art, art history and chemistry, and it is pretty typical that a pre-program intern is missing one, but its usually chemistry. During the pre-program phase, the candidate usually tries to take chemistry courses while doing the pre-program work. I think that the chemistry background is a strength and will make you stand out. The NMAI internships are competitive but without knowing more about your interests and background it is hard to say what they might think of your application. I think your next steps are to visit the American Institute for Conservation website, start taking some studio art and art history courses, and try to find a conservator who will spend some time with you. How to find one? A lot of places don’t have or advertise formal pre-program internships, but many have the flexibility to have someone around if it is worth their while. It is pretty likely to be volunteer work. You didn’t say where you’re located? Easiest thing is to identify all the museums in your area that have some kind of conservation lab, or private conservators who have their own business, google any conservator whose name you find, and see if you can get a feel for someone who might seem approachable or whose interests might have some intersection with something in your life, so you have a point of connection. You will find the path a bit easier if you connect with someone who has gone to one of the formal graduate training programs. Then you contact them and throw yourself upon their mercy, hoping they will remember what it was like to be in your shoes. Another option is to talk to the art history faculty at whatever college or university you might take courses at. They might personally know a conservator. At this point, it is not important which area of conservation (paper, objects, paintings etc) because people often switch once they get into grad school. On the AIC website, there are ethics/ guidelines and standards for practice. Being familiar with those would be really smart.

  3. Jen says:

    Hey Chippy!

    This is a message from your former 25th St. neighbor! Too much facebooking got me strolling down memory lane and I googled you. I’m glad to see you are happy and successful. I knew you’d be doing something fascinating!

    Jen Smith (of the twins, Jenny & Jeremy)

  4. Jen says:

    p.s. We may have crossed paths in both Madison & Boston. I did my undergrad at UW and grad at Simmons College and worked at Radcliffe. Small world…

  5. hi.what are the problemes fm200 for the museums&archival old library?

  6. ellencarrlee says:

    fm200 and other inert gas fire suppression systems are not as popular as they used to be. The inert gases used are often bad for the environment and sometimes become outlawed (like Halon) and difficult and expensive to buy. But a more important reason is that if the system is discharged and is not enough to put out the fire completely, the fire could destroy the collection. That would be much worse than getting a little wet. Also, if the system is discharged (either for a fire or by accident) then your collection is not protected at all against fire until the tanks can be filled again. Here in Alaska, that could take many weeks. Finally, there is the issue of the force that is used for some inert gas systems. I know of several museums that have had accidental discharge of Halon, and objedcts were thrown around the room and broken. For our building, a Halon discharge in our collections room would mean the ceiling tiles might be blown off and the room contaminated with asbestos from above the ceiling. The current trend seems to be traditional wet-pipe sprinklers. Statistics show that most fires are put out with only one or two sprinkler heads going off, and accidental discharge is rare. We are currently in the deisgn phase to build a new building with the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museums together under one roof. We plan to use a wet pipe system in the new building.

  7. David Lucas says:

    Do you take on small private conservation projects for hire?
    If so, do you get to Anchorage often? Perhaps you would like to look at the object.

  8. ellencarrlee says:

    Hi David,
    I don’t get to Anchorage often but I always enjoy looking at artifacts. Unfortunately, as a state employee and conservator in a museum with a small staff and plenty of objects that need attention, I can’t take on private conservation contracts for hire. Luckily, you and I were able to connect a little more by phone and I hope I’ve sent you some helpful info. Monica Shah is the head of collections and conservator at the Anchorage Museum, and may also have some good advice but I suspect she might be in the same boat as I am regarding projects for hire.

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