Sarah Staniforth CBE


Sarah changed the way conservators and their fellow professionals think about and do conservation. She is outstanding in the true sense of the word and certainly deserves to be honoured in this way.

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Global Movement Leader, Heritage Conservationist & Cultural Heritage Preservationist

Sarah has been an outstanding figure in the field of heritage conservation for many years, and her work is internationally recognized. Over her career to date she has transformed the theory and practice of conservation, demystifying it for many and introducing sustainable approaches to the care of historic houses and artefacts across the United Kingdom. Her research combines academic rigour with practical, real world application, and her latest book, Historical Perspectives on Preventative Conservation, was published last year. Sarah has written and lectured extensively on preventive conservation for collections in museums and historic houses; some of this work is recorded in the National Trust Manual of Housekeeping, which was published in 2006 with a revised edition in 2011. Staniforth, from Cheltenham, is regarded both inside and outside the charity as an international authority on conservation practice and is held in great affection by her colleagues. She continues to demonstrate her commitment to looking after heritage in her role as President at the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) – a global organization for conservation and restoration professionals with over two thousand members in over fifty countries. This year 2015, Sarah Staniforth has been appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Staniforth, who stepped down from her post this year to take an honorary position at the National Trust, was credited for her services to National Heritage. Sarah has worked at the National Trust since 1985, rising to become Head Conservator and finally Museum and Collections Director. Among Sarah’s many voluntary roles for many years she served on the Council of IIC (International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works), initially as a Council Member then as Vice-President.

She was elected President of IIC in January 2013, and was the first Chair of the National Heritage Science Forum. She has also served on the Council of the Museums Association, the United Kingdom Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and the Association of Independent Museums. She is a Fellow of IIC, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society of Arts. She is also a Trustee of the new English Heritage charity, the Landmark Trust and the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. She is a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee, Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission and Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee. She sits on the panel for the Pilgrim Trust – Association of Independent Museums conservation awards. She previously held a number of roles at the National Trust from 1985-2014, including Historic Properties Director, Museums and Collections Director, and Director of National Trust Enterprises and Historic House Hotels. Sarah is particularly interested in the sustainability of museums and heritage organizations and has worked with National Trust properties to help them adopt a triple bottom line approach to their financial and environmental practices and the public benefit that they provide. Working for the National Trust has taken Sarah to all parts of the South West, and she enjoys thinking about heritage in the round recognizing the relationships between the natural and built heritage and local and global environments.