Kate Helwig

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science Division

Main areas of work and/or specializations

  • artists' materials
  • archaeological materials
  • iron oxide pigments (natural and synthetic)
  • light microscopy
  • scanning electron microscopy energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS)
  • fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy
  • Raman spectroscopy


Photo of Kate Helwig
Kate Helwig

Kate Helwig has a B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University in California. She studied artifact conservation at Queen’s University and received a Master in Art Conservation in 1992. Since 1992, she has worked at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), where she is currently a senior conservation scientist. She specializes in the analysis of art and archeological materials using FTIR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and light microscopy. Her research interests include the following:

  • history and characterization of artists' pigments,
  • materials and techniques of Canadian painters,
  • study of residues on archaeological artifacts and
  • efflorescence and soap formation in modern oil paints.

Kate has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and contributed a chapter on the iron oxide pigments to the fourth volume of the Artists’ Pigments series, published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. She was an editor for the CCI symposium Preserving Aboriginal Heritage, Technical and Traditional Approaches, Ottawa, Canada, September 24–28, 2007. She is also active in the conservation community outside CCI: she was a co-editor of the Canadian Association for Conservation Bulletin from 2001 to 2004; she has been an associate editor for the Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation since 2003, and she also acted as a co-editor of the Journal from 2008 to 2010.

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