David Howell BSc BA

Subject Tutor - Collections Care & Conservation Management

David Howell, an Institute of Conservation accredited conservator with over 30 years in the conservation profession joined the College in January 2020 as a tutor on the MA Collection Care and Conservation Management course. David brings with him a wealth of experience in the science and practice of conservation having held roles at Historic Royal Palaces and The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

As a graduate chemist he began his career at Hampton Court Palace as a practicing textile conservator but quickly began to apply his scientific knowledge to textile conservation science. He specialised in studying the degradation of silk and became Principal Researcher in a major European funded project, The Monitoring of Damage to Historic Tapestries. David moved to Oxford to become Head of Preventive Conservation and later Head of Conservation and Collection Care, Bodleian Libraries. This was a time of great change for the libraries with the building of the book storage facility in Swindon and the complete renovation of The New Bodleian Library, now The Weston Library. Latterly David was Head of Heritage Science carrying out analysis and research on Bodleian’s amazing Special Collection Material.

David has extensive experience of teaching and student supervision, having been on the first group of teachers on the RCA/V&A MA in Conservation, a frequent lecturer on conservation summer schools, internal and external PhD supervisor, and a PhD assessor at a number of Universities. He also has a track record of successful funding bids with the EU, The Leverhulme Trust, and the Radcliffe Trust, as well as negotiating a number of philanthropic donations from alumni and the public.

David is excited to join the team at West Dean. "West Dean College has such a long and prestigious reputation and it is an honour to be here. Some of the conservators at The Bodleian Libraries were trained here, and I also had the pleasure of working alongside Chris Clarkson. I really like the course I am involved with as it concentrates on solving practical problems rather than just learning lots of facts. This is great training for people who want jobs as collection managers or preventive conservators. They will leave West Dean with the confidence to really hit the road running."


  • David Howell, "Conservation Research in Libraries", Current Topics in Library and Information Practice, De Gruyter Saur (2020)
  • Di Bai, David W. Messinger, David Howell, “A Hyperspectral Imaging Spectral Unmixing and Classification Approach to Pigment Mapping in the Gough & Selden Maps”, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Volume 58, 2019 - Issue 1-2
  • Howell, D "The potential of hyperspectral imaging for researching colour on artefacts" in Digital Imaging of Artefacts: Developments in Methods and Aims, ed Kate Kelley and Rachel Wood, Archeaopress, 2018
  • David Howell, “Jonathan Ashley-Smith: mentor, role model, inspiration”, Journal of the Institute of Conservation, (2018)
  • A.Beeby, L. Garner, D. Howell, C.E. Nicholson, “There’s more to reflectance spectroscopy than lux’, J. Inst. Conserv. (2018)
  • Maybury, I.J., Howell, D., Terras, M. et al. “Comparing the effectiveness of hyperspectral imaging and Raman spectroscopy: a case study on Armenian manuscripts”, Heritage Science (2018)
  • Nick Millea, David Howell, “Revealing the Past: How Science Is Unlocking Cartographic Secrets” In: Altiæ M., Demhardt I., Vervust S. (eds) Dissemination of Cartographic Knowledge. Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography. Springer, Cham (2018)
  • Richard Mulholland, David Howell, Andrew Beeby, Catherine Nicholson and Kelly Domoney, “Identifying eighteenth century pigments at the Bodleian library using in situ Raman spectroscopy, XRF and hyperspectral imaging”, Heritage Science (2017)
  • Di Bai, David W. Messinger, David Howell, "A pigment analysis tool for hyperspectral images of cultural heritage artifacts", Proc. SPIE 10198, Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery XXIII, 101981A (2017)
  • Di Bai, David W. Messinger, David Howell, "Hyperspectral analysis of cultural heritage artifacts: pigment material diversity in the Gough Map of Britain," Optical Engineering 56(8), 081805 (2017)
  • Ludo Snijders, Tim Zaman, and David Howell, “Using hyperspectral imaging to reveal a hidden precolonial Mesoamerican codex”, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Elsevier October (2016)
  • The Technological Study of Books and Manuscripts as Artefacts Research questions and analytical solutions edited by Sarah Neate, David Howell, Richard Ovenden and A.M. Pollard. BAR, (2011)

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