02 Jul 2024

Marsh Conservation Awards Winners Announced at Icon24

Marsh Awards 2024 were announced during the Evening Reception at the Icon24 Conference at the Royal Geographical Society.

Promoting the wider recognition of conservation and the value it brings to society, the Marsh Conservation Awards aim to shine a spotlight on highly skilled practitioners in our sector who are championing advances in best practice, research and training.

We partnered with the Marsh Charitable Trust to deliver the awards for a second year at Icon’s 2024 Conference, ‘Conservation for Change’, at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington on 2 July. From industrial heritage in Scotland to traditional dress in Kenya, the winners of this years’ awards reflect the disciplinary breadth of conservation practice and its ability to engage communities on a local and global scale.

We congratulate the winners and wish them many more successful projects! 

Heritage Conservation in Action

Winner: Kabarnet Museum, National Museums of Kenya

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A project led by curator and conservator Lillian Amwanda Ochieng that involved the restoration of two culturally significant artefacts from the Kabarnet Museum’s ethnographic store has helped to transform the museum’s public engagement programme. Through extensive collaboration with elders from two local communities, the museum staff and volunteer team were able to learn traditional conservation practices and gained a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of the ceremonial headdress and traditional skirt restored. This in turn has enhanced the cultural narrative the museum presents to the public.


Innovation in Conservation

Winner: Industrial Museums Scotland: Powering Our People Project

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Launched in 2022, Industrial Museums Scotland’s (IMS’s) ‘Powering Our People’ project was designed to address the gap in heritage conservation skills and knowledge in Scotland’s industrial museums. A programme of targeted skills development training courses, knowledge exchange activities and the creation of a conservation intern role created a dynamic conservation legacy, equipping the workforce of the 15 IMS member organisations with the skills and resources to care for these nationally significant collections for future generations.


Environmental or Sustainability Focus in Conservation

Winner: Alexandra Wade, London Metropolitan Archives

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When Preventive Conservator Alexandra took over the Green Group at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in 2019, her ambition was to expand their existing efforts in promoting sustainability. As such, she facilitated donations to underfunded schools, charities and community centres, demonstrating the potential of cultural heritage institutions to support local initiatives. She also initiated a monthly newsletter to engage staff, leading to increased recycling and waste reduction. These regular updates have helped to rejuvenate LMA’s efforts to build a strong circular economy, introducing new recycling, repurposing and energy-saving initiatives. In addition, Alexandra has helped to redevelop LMA’s sustainability policy, spoken at several conferences and published articles to share her knowledge and practices.


Early Career Conservator

Winner: Alannah Hay, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth 

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Alannah joined the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in March 2023 as Conservation Technician, moving into the role of Conservator just six months later. Although she is an early career conservator and relatively new to NMRN, she has already proven herself to be a vital cog in the team, carrying out ethically-sound treatment and preventive tasks across NMRN’s wide-ranging collections; working closely with multiple specialisms; managing, training and supervising staff, volunteers and external contractors; and creating new working methods and efficiencies within the department. Alannah is also heavily involved in the HMS Victory Conservation Project, providing crucial conservation advice, treatment and advocacy.


Outstanding Student Conservator

Winner: Emma Callaghan, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool

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Emma started a degree apprenticeship in Cultural Heritage Conservation in October 2021, supported by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and the University of Lincoln. Her apprenticeship projects have had a significant impact on the NMRN Hartlepool collection and contribute to all the NMRN’s Conservation Strategy goals. These include improving knowledge of the collection’s condition, improving the condition of the collection, facilitating access to the collection, supporting academic engagement and increasing conservation advocacy. In addition, she has been working on a NLHF-funded project that is focused on the re-interpretation and conservation of NMRN’s figureheads, forming a crucial part of the project delivery team.

More information about this year’s winners will follow in future issues of Iconnect magazine and online.

Dr David Leigh FSA FIIC ACR, Plowden Medal, Chair of the Marsh Conservation Awards Judging Panel, commented:

“The judging panel was impressed with the quality and range of the nominations this year. The calibre of the winning entries demonstrates not just the exceptional skills of the conservators who are charged with looking after our shared cultural heritage, but also their responsiveness to the values that communities place on collections and a readiness to explain and engage people with their important work.”

Emma Jhita, Icon’s Chief Executive Officer, added:

“It’s been incredible to see the level of ambition amongst the conservators and conservation projects nominated, the commitment to the profession and sharing of insights into heritage.

Conservators care for the things that matter most, from national treasures to family heirlooms and collectables, so they can be displayed, researched and used. They are highly trained professionals who use their knowledge, skills and experience to understand and protect historic objects. Their work helps us to understand ourselves and our future by caring for and engaging with our past.”


Our sincere thanks to the Marsh Charitable Trust for making these awards possible, along with our 2024 panel of judges:

Panel Chair: Dr David Leigh FSA FIIC ACR, Plowden Medal

Main panel: Emma Jhita, Icon CEO; Mark Ross, Icon Trustee; Camella Ramjet, Icon Emerging Professionals Network; and Annie McCarthy, Marsh Charitable Trust

Specialist judges: Ylva Dahnsjo ACR, Dr Clare Finn ACR, Clare Meredith, Helen Wilson ACR, Lorna Calcutt ACR and Janie Lightfoot ACR