Collections and Research
Conservators have the privilege of working very closely with objects: manipulating them, learning how they are structured and how they work, and feeling the texture of their materials between the fingers. However, conservation is more than a tactile experience. Conservation combines a deep knowledge of materials, scientific and technical methods, aesthetic concerns, and historical and social context. What could be more exciting than the head and the hands working together?
Caterina Florio joined the McCord Museum in 2021, as Head of Conservation. She oversees the department’s active treatment program, facilitates the display of the collection and plans its preservation. With a strong interest in how museums function and what they can achieve, she is committed to the wider relevance of conservation as regards both museum practices and society outside the lab. Conservation is, above all, a collaborative effort, integrating the needs of museum professionals, objects’ communities of origin, and the public.
Prior to joining the McCord Museum, as the sole Textile Conservator at the Canadian Museum of History for a decade, Florio had primary responsibility for the care of the textile collections and contributed to the wide-ranging activities of the Museum. She also has extensive experience in the private sector, having worked as a textile conservator and consultant in Italy and Canada. Florio has taught university courses on textile conservation, given lectures, and conducted workshops for various groups—conservators, allied professionals, and the public. In addition, she has researched and published on conservation practices as part of the museum experience and the influence of modern aesthetic expectations on the level of conservation intervention.
Florio has been a board member of the North American Textile Conservation Conference since 2017 and was Chair of the 2019 Conference, “Lesson Learned. Textile Conservation, Then and Now.” She is a member of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (CAC), where she has served in various volunteer roles over the years. She is currently involved in the CAC’s Reconciliation Working Group. She is also committed to ensuring the continued vitality of the profession and has mentored numerous interns and fellows.
Florio has a Diploma in Textile Conservation from the Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro (Institute for Art and Restoration), Palazzo Spinelli, in Florence, Italy, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Art History and a master’s in Textile Conservation, both from the University of Florence, Italy. She was awarded the Isabel Bader Research Fellowship in Textile Conservation by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University.
“From Flying Flag to Museum Flag,” Flag Research Quarterly, No.14 (September 2017) 13-16.
“Textile conservation and the display of historical costumes.” In Exhibition and interpretation: Proceedings of the ICOM Costume Committee Annual Meeting, Toronto, edited by Alexandra Kim. Toronto, 2015.
“Textile Conservation and the Museum Public.” In The Public Face of Conservation, edited by Emily Williams, 37-44. London: Archetype Publications, 2013.
“Make Do and Mend – Visible Mending,” online workshop series in conjunction with the exhibition Forever Changed – Stories From the Second World War,” Canadian War Museum, 2021.
“Hand Skills and Conservation Practice,” Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property Annual Conference, Kingston, 2018.
“From Flying Flag to Museum Flag,” NAVA 49 (North American Vexillological Association) Annual Meeting, Ottawa, October 16-18, 2015.
“Textile conservation and the display of historical costumes,” International Council of Museums (ICOM) Costume Committee Annual Meeting, Toronto, 2015.
“Textile Conservation and the Museum Public,” Playing to the Galleries and Engaging New Audiences: The Public Face of Conservation, Colonial Williamsburg, November 14-16, 2011.