Staff Profile

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Stephanie Hornbeck

Chief Conservator

Gantz Family Collections Center

Stephanie E. Hornbeck, Head of Conservation, Gantz Family Collections Center. Stephanie's academic studies in art history and art conservation led to her focus on the conservation of African and Caribbean material culture. Specializing in ethnographic object conservation, she is interested in the imaginative use of natural materials to produce cultural objects. For The Field Museum, she directs preservation activities primarily for the Anthropology collections, to prepare objects for storage, exhibition and loan to other institutions.

Stephanie joined the Field Museum staff as Head of Conservation in 2017. From 2010-2017, she was Director of Conservation at Caryatid Conservation Services, Inc., her private practice in object and sculpture conservation based in Miami, which served museum clients, historic-preservation specialists, and private collectors. During this period, she served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution Office of the Provost, Cultural Rescue Initiative, regularly working in Haiti from 2010-2016 and on short projects in Cairo, Egypt and Muscat, Oman.

From 2010-2012, Stephanie served as Chief Conservator for the Smithsonian Institution Haiti Cultural Recovery Project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, directing conservation recovery efforts of cultural patrimony damaged in the January 2010 earthquake.  In recognition of her service, Stephanie was awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service; she is the first conservator in the award’s history to be so honored. This project was extensively covered by international media outlets.  In 2011, Wellesley Magazine featured a cover story, "The Art of Recovery", about Stephanie’s conservation work in Haiti.

From 1998-2009, Stephanie was Conservator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. From 2006-2009 she served as Chair of the Smithsonian Forum of Material Culture.  She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and a past chair of the AIC Education and Training Committee.  

Stephanie's research interests include the identification and regulation of elephant ivory, related aspects of ethnographic & contemporary art conservation, and post-disaster cultural recovery. She regularly lectures and publishes on these subjects.



Additional Information


Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Diploma in Fine Art Conservation (Objects), M.A. Art History

Wellesley College

B.A. Art History


Drayman-Weisser, T. and S. Hornbeck,  2018. "An Art Conservation Perspective: Saving the African Elephant and Ivory Cultural Heritage." Curator: The Museum Journal , 61:1 (January 2018), 161-185.

Hornbeck, S. 2017. "Elephant Ivory: An Overview of Changes to Its Stringent Regulation and Considerations for Its Identification." AIC Objects Specialty Group Postprints (Miami) 2015.  American Institute for Conservation. vol. 22, 101-122.

Hornbeck, S. 2010 (revised 2016). "Ivory: Identification and Regulation of a Precious Material." Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2010-2016)/Caryatid Conservation Services (2016).

Hornbeck, S. and D. Moffett, 2016. “Altered Surfaces, Taking the Long View: Applications of Ethnographic Conservation Practices to the Conservation of Contemporary Art,”Studies in Conservation, Supplementary Issue: “Los Angeles Congress Preprints: Saving the Now,” International Institute for Conservation (IIC).

Owczarkek, N.; S. Hornbeck; JD Portell, and T. Drayman-Weisser, 2015. “The Preservation of Cultural Property with Respect to U.S. Government Regulation of African Elephant Ivory,” American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Position Paper.

Hornbeck, S. 2015. “Developing an Infrastructure for Conservation and Training in Haiti after the 2010 Earthquake,” Uniting to Save World Cultures: Investigating the Attributes of Successful Emergency Cultural Heritage Protection Interventions, conference at Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (in press).

Hornbeck, S. 2014. “Art and Cultural Heritage Conservation in Haiti: Considerations for its Formal Development,” for Metropolis Books, Reports from Haiti blog series.

Hornbeck, S. 2013. “The Nevelson Conservation Project,” nine-part blog series describing Caryatid Conservation’s four-month treatment of two sculptures by Louise Nevelson, Dream House XLIII (1973) and Untitled (c. early 1980s), in the collection of the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Weekly blog posts featured guest bloggers from Caryatid Conservation, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), The M Network and ARTEX Fine Art Services.

Hornbeck, S. 2015. “Intersecting Conservation Approaches to Ethnographic and Contemporary Art: Ephemeral Art at the National Museum of African Art”, AIC Objects Specialty Group PostPrints (Indianapolis), 2013. American Institute for Conservation (AIC). 

Hornbeck, S. 2012. “Communicating the Smithsonian Haiti Cultural Recovery Project: Outreach and Reportage,” moderated panel. Annual Meeting, American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Annual Meeting, Philadelphia.

Hornbeck, S. and V. Dominguez, 2012. “The Journey to Recovery: A Tale of Earthquake Damage and Repair in Haiti,” The Bigger Picture Blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Hornbeck, S. 2012. “Emergency Salvage & Disaster Recovery: Objects and Textiles.” Florida Association of Museums, Connecting to Collections (FAM C2C) Webinar, August 7, 2012.

Hornbeck, S. 2011. In Kurin, R., Saving Haiti's Heritage: Cultural Recovery after the Earthquake. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2011. Six essays.

Hornbeck, S. 2009. “A Conservation Conundrum: Ephemeral Art at the National Museum of African Art,” African Arts 3(42), Autumn 2009, 52-61.

Hornbeck, S. 2005. “The Treatment and Preparation for Exhibition of a Composite Material Ceremonial Warrior’s Costume from the Loma People in Liberia,” in conference postprints, compiled by E. Cortes and S. Thomassen-Krauss, Recovering the Past: The Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Textiles, North American Textile Conservation Conference, 5th Biennial Meeting, Mexico City.

Work experience

Caryatid Conservation Services, Inc., 2010-2017. Miami, FL. Founder and Director of Conservation. 

Cultural Rescue Initiative, Office of the Provost, Smithsonian Institution, 2012-2016. Consultant. 

Smithsonian Institution Haiti Cultural Recovery Project, June 2010-January 2012. Port-au-Prince, HAITI. Chief Conservator.

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, 1998-2010. Washington, DC. Conservator (2006-2010), Associate Conservator (2001-2006), Assistant Conservator (1998-2001).

Conservation Analytical Laboratory (now MCI), Smithsonian Institution, 1997-1998. Washington, DC. Graduate Archaeological Conservation Intern, Harappa Archaeological Research Project, Harappa, PAKISTAN and Proyecto Arqueologico Aguateca Guatemala City, GUATEMALA.

Harvard University Exploration of Sardis, summers 1995-1997. Sardis, TURKEY. Archaeological Field Conservation Student.

Professional affiliations

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), Professional Associate, member since 1994.

ArtTable, member (2016-present).

Smithsonian Forum on Material Culture Steering Committee, Chair (2006-2009), member (2004-2006).

American Alliance of Museums (AAM), member since 2006.

AIC Education and Training Committee, Chair (2004-2006), member (2001-2007).