Barbara Wills

Conservator of Organic Artefacts

Department: Conservation and Scientific Research


+44 (0)20 7323 8252


Barbara Wills works on a wide range of organic materials and specialises in the conservation of leather, basketry materials and Ancient Egyptian objects. She has been involved in archaeological excavations in Sudan and elsewhere, and has an interest in the preservation of ephemeral organic objects.

She enjoys passing on skills to colleagues, students and interns, lecturing and publishing widely. As a long-term Archaeological Leather Group committee member she has organised study days, conferences, etc. She has also edited publications in her field of expertise, e.g. Leather Wet and Dry: Current Treatments in the Conservation of Waterlogged and Desiccated Archaeological Leather.

In 2006 she worked for two months at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, as part of an exchange of skills completed when Julie Dawson (Senior assistant keeper, Fitzwilliam Museum) worked in the British Museum in 2007.

Current projects

Ancient Egyptian basketry; colour, plant material and conservation.

Organising the next Conservation and Scientific Research conference (24 April 2009) ‘Going Green: towards sustainability in conservation’

Previous projects

Investigation of Nubian leatherwork on excavation and after

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Trustee of the Leather Conservation Centre

Meetings Coordinator of the Archaeological Leather Group (ALG)

Member of the International Committee of Museums (ICOM)

Member of the Institute of Conservation (ICON)

Recent publications

B Wills and M. Hacke, ‘Colour on Ancient Egyptian Baskets; extent, significance and conservation solutions’ in Postprints of ICON Archaeology Group/Fitzwilliam Museum (University of Cambridge) Conference 2007; Decorated Surfaces on Ancient Egyptian Objects, Technology, Deterioration and Conservation (forthcoming, 2008)

B. Wills, B. McLeod, S. La Niece and C. Cartwright, ‘A shell garniture from Gujarat in the British Museum’ in The British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, No.1, (London, Archetype, 2007) pp.1-8

B. Wills, ‘Excavating desiccated leather: Conservation problems on site and after’ in Leather Wet and Dry: Current Treatments in the Conservation of Waterlogged and Desiccated Archaeological Leather Postprints, B. Wills (ed.), (London, Archetype, 2001), pp.51-62

B. Wills, ‘A review of the conservation treatment a Romano-Egyptian cuirass and helmet made from crocodile skin’, The Conservator, 24, (UKIC, London, 2000) pp.80-88

B. Wills, ‘The Conservation of Two Pre-dynastic Egyptian Bodies’ with C. Johnson in Conservation of Ancient Egyptian Materials (UKIC, London, 1995) pp.79-84

B. Wills, ‘Some Methods of Basketry Repair, using Japanese Tissue Paper and Starch Paste’ in Where to Start, Where to Stop (Museum Ethnographers Group, 1994) pp.109-113

B. Wills, ‘An approach to the Conservation of a Mexican Saddle’ with D. Sully and Y. Shashoua, IIC 14th International Conference in Conservation of the Iberian and Latin American Cultural Heritage Postprints (IIC, Madrid, 1992) pp.179-183