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Wain, Dr Alison

Alison Wain Profile Picture

Lecturer, Heritage Conservation
Faculty of Arts & Design

Bldg, Floor & Room: 7, C15
Telephone: (02) 6201 5206
Facsimile: (02) 6201 5034


Alison has a doctorate in the conservation and management of large technology heritage objects from the Australian National University, and has worked in the heritage industry for 25 years. She has a background in the conservation of archaeological and historic objects and is particularly interested in the preservation and use of large machinery, having led the Large Technology Workshop and Small Objects Laboratory at the Australian War Memorial for ten years, and before that worked on the establishment of the Scienceworks campus of Museum Victoria. She also has curatorial experience, having managed the Photo Film and Sound curatorial section at the Memorial. Alison joined UC in 2011 and is Course Convenor for the Bachelor of Heritage, Museums and Conservation.

Areas of Teaching

Alison teaches units on conservation, cultural heritage management, material culture and sustainability in heritage.

Research Interests

Alison's research interests include the significance and values that people attribute to heritage, the preservation of intangible and digital heritage, the use of lasers for the analysis and cleaning of heritage artefacts, and the development of materials conservation practice and conservation science. In 2004 Alison founded the international Big Stuff conference series on large technology heritage and is currently organising Big Stuff 2015 at the Centre Historique Minier in Lille, France. She is also working with laser physicists at the Australian National University to develop techniques for cleaning metal thread work on textiles using ultrafast pulse lasers. With Tracy Ireland, Alison is involved in Connecting the Nation: Australia's Aviation Heritage, a project involving the development of a digital portal for aviation heritage in collaboration with Airservices Australia. Alison has also initiated a cross-disciplinary team at UC studying the teaching of digital concepts and capacity building for humanities students.

  • 2012 Doctor of Philosophy – Australian National University
    Thesis – Size Matters: Seeing the Values in Large Technology Heritage
  • 1999 Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) – University of Canberra
    Thesis – Investigating the Condition of Organic Coatings on Metals: Electrochemical Evaluation Techniques in a Conservation Context 
  • 1989 Bachelor of Science (Hons) (Archaeological Conservation) – University of Cardiff, Wales, UK
  • 1986 Bachelor of Arts (Hons) (Archaeology and Fine Arts) – University of Melbourne

Recent Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Kono, M., Baldwin, K.G.H., Wain, A. and Rode, A.V. (2015) "Treating the Untreatable in Art and Heritage Materials: Ultrafast Laser Cleaning of "Cloth-of-Gold", Langmuir, Vol. 31, pp. 1596−1604
  • Wain, A. (2014) "Conservation of the intangible: a continuing challenge", AICCM Bulletin, Vol. 35, pp. 52-59
  • Wain, A. (2011) "A many-headed axe: originality in large technology heritage", Journal of Australian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp.495-510
  • Rode, A. V., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A., Madsen, N. R., Freeman, D., Delaporte, Ph., and Luther-Davies, B. (2008) "Ultrafast Laser Ablation for Restoration of Heritage Objects", Appl. Surf. Science, Vol.  254, pp. 3137-3146
  • Rode, A. V., Freeman, D., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A., Uteza, O., Delaporte, Ph. (2008) "Ultrafast pulse laser cleaning of paint: Scanning the laser beam", Applied Physics A, Vol. 93, pp.135-139
  • Rode, A. V., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, Delaporte, Ph. (2007) "Ultrafast lasers for conservation of heritage artefacts", AICCM Bulletin, Vol. 30, pp. 17-26.

Refereed Conference Proceedings

  • Kono, M., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A., Sawicki, M., Malkiel, I. K., Rode, A. V. (2011) "High-repetition-rate laser restoration of heritage artefacts", in Proceedings of the 9th conference on Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks (LACONA), 7–10 September 2011, London.
  • Wain, A. (in press) "Reflecting the past", invited paper in forthcoming book, Critical Collections, ed. E. Bonshek and T. Ireland, Proceedings of UC Colloquium, 9 December 2011.
  • Rode, A.V., Freeman, D., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A., Uteza, O., Delaporte, Ph. (2008) "Cleaning of paint with high repetition rate laser: Scanning the laser beam", in: Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks, ed. M. Castillejo, P. Moreno, M. Oujja, R. Radvan, and J. Ruiz, Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks LACONA'07, Madrid, Spain, CRC Press
  • Rode, A. V., Madsen, N. R., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A. (2008) "Restoration of heritage objects: Removal of paint with high-repetition-rate ultrafast laser", ICO-21 Congress Proceedings 2008, 21st Congress of the International Commission for Optics; Sydney, 7-10 July 2008
  • Rode, A. V., Madsen, N. R., Gamaly, E. G., Luther-Davies, B., Baldwin, K. G. H., Hallam, D., Wain, A., Hughes,  J. (2007) "Ultrafast laser cleaning of museum artefacts", Ch. 12 in: Laser Cleaning II, ed. D. M. Kane, World Scientific, Singapore, pp. 219-230
  • Rode, A. V., Madsen, N. R., Gamaly, E. G., Freeman, D., Luther-Davies, B., Baldwin, K. G. H., Wain, A., Hughes, J. (2004) "Ultrafast laser cleaning of museum artefacts", in 4th New Trends in Laser Cleaning (NETOLAC IV), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 14th -17th December 2004

PhD Thesis

  • Wain, A., Size Matters: Seeing the Values in Large Technology Heritage, PhD thesis, Australian National University 2013.

Conference Presentations

  • Wain, A. (2013) "The Plight of Engineering Heritage in Australian Museums", presented at the 17th National Engineering Heritage Conference, 18-20 November 2013, Canberra, Australia
  • Wain, A. (2013) "Feel the Love – the visual presentation of large technology heritage", presented at the 4th Big Stuff 2013 conference, 25-27 September 2013, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa, Canada
  • Wain, A. and Schroeder, A. (2010) "We'll have that…and that… and, oh, just everything!" presented at the 3rd Big Stuff Conference, 6-8 October 2010, Duxford, UK
  • Kennedy, L. and Wain, A. (2010) "A lorry by any other name", presented at the 3rd Big Stuff Conference, 6-8 October 2010, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK
  • Wain, A. (2007) "Large technology projects - success and sustainability", presented at the 2nd Big Stuff Conference, 24-27 September 2007, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, Bochum, Germany
  • Wain, "Old skills in a new context", paper presented at the No Skills: No Future Conservation Conference, 16 June, 2006, National Trust, Sydney, Australia
  • Wain, A. "A well-planned operation", Preprints of the 1stBig Stuff Conference,29-30 September, 2004, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia
  • A. Wain "Running an efficient large technology maintenance program", Preprints of the 1st Big Stuff Conference, 29-30 September, 2004, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia

Online Publications


  • 2006-08 Partner Investigator in Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant LP0668117: Short pulse laser cleaning for Australian heritage conservation