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Dates of existence
[ca. 195-] -
Dr. Miriam Lisa Clavir was the Senior Conservator of the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia and Associate of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of British Columbia from 1980 to 2004. In 1969, she obtained her bachelor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Ontario, in 1976 her masters in Art Conservation at Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario, and in 1998 her doctorate in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. In addition, Miriam Clavir was received as a Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators in 1987 and as a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation in 1993.
Prior to employment at the University of British Columbia, Clavir was an assistant conservator at Parks Canada, National Historic Sites Service, Quebec Region from 1976 to 1980, a conservation assistant for Parks Canada from 1973 to 1976, and an assistant for the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto in the Archaeology and Conservation Department from 1969 to 1972.
During her employment at the Museum of Anthropology, Miriam Clavir was involved in the following committees: Ellen Neel’s Thunderbird Pole Committee (2001 to 2004), Aboriginal Relations and Repatriation Committee, (Chair 1996 to 2004); Exhibits Committee (Chair 1997 and 1998); Collections Committee (to 2004); Executive Committee (1995 to 1996), and; Acquisitions Committee (to 2004). In 1982 she chaired the conference “Doing Yourself In? The Artist as Casualty.”
As the head of the Conservation area, Clavir’s responsibilities and functions included:
• Managing the conservation function, including the lab at MOA;
• Initiating and implementing processes, policies and actions to ensure that the collections housed in MOA do not deteriorate;
• Responsibility for teaching museum conservation at UBC, including credit courses, directed studies, and supervising interns and students;
• Ensuring that conservation practices at MOA are sensitive to the concerns of First Nations communities and other groups;
• Performing MOA managerial work not directly associated with conservation (such as chair or a member of committees and/or manages selected MOA projects);
• Responsibility for planning and prioritizing future conservation needs at MOA, with the assistance of other conservation staff;
• Examining objects in MOA travelling exhibits and loans to ensure that artefacts are stable and travel would not endanger their condition;
• Acting as liaison conservator with receiving institutions for MOA objects on loan;
• Supervising and advising staff, students, and Volunteer Associates on conservation questions and issues;
• Providing services to the public on questions in conservation directed to MOA; and,
• Conducting research necessary to support the functions and responsibilities of the Conservation Area and for meeting requirements set in the mandate of the Museum.
As an instructor, Dr. Miriam Clavir taught the following courses: Anthropology 451: The Conservation of Inorganic Materials; Anthropology 452: The Conservation of Organic Materials; Anthropology 431: (1991-1992); Classics 440: Field school (1987); Archival Studies 610: (1983-1988). In addition, she was an instructor for the Continuing Education Department at the University of British Columbia (1986, 1983, 1981). She also supervised conservation interns from 1989 to 1997. Miriam Clavir was also the principal instructor and course organizer for “Collections Care”, University of Victoria Course #HA488D taught at the UBC Museum of Anthropology for the Aboriginal Cultural Stewardship Program. Furthermore, she taught Mus.482 (Conservation) at the Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle (1999, 2000, 2002).
In 1999, Clavir took a leave of absence from the Museum to publish a book based on her Ph.D. thesis, “Preserving What Is Valued: Museums, Conservation, and First Nations,” (2002) which won the 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award in the Conservation Category from the Canadian Museums Association. The book discusses the profession and ethics of museum conservation, and how conservation ideas and practices contrast with the values and concerns of First Nations.
She is also credited with numerous independent journal articles. Among these: “Museum Changes to First Nations Objects, and their Physical and Conceptual Reversibility” (1999); “The Future of Ethnographic Conservation: A Canadian Perspective” (2001) and “Heritage Preservation: Museum Conservation and First Nations Perspectives” (2003).
Miriam Clavir retired as Senior Conservator at the Museum of Anthropology in 2004.