Art Conservation Studio

Thomas Heller Bio


Thomas Heller

After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, Tom had other plans. Several years as a cabinetmaker specializing in period furniture reproductions led to a position at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in their Furniture Conservation Studio.


Three years later, Tom relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to take a position with James L. Horne Antiquary. A one-year position at Winterthur Museum, in their Furniture Conservation Studio, brought Tom back to the Philadelphia area. Tom went into private practice upon completion of the contract with Winterthur.

Drawing and carving by T.L. Heller

Drawing and carving by T.L. Heller


While developing his private practice, a four-month contract at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was offered to treat furniture for the "Worldly Goods" exhibit. The opportunity to work on early Pennsylvania furniture, some of which had never been publicly exhibited, presented a rare chance to study and learn from some of the best pieces ever produced in Pennsylvania. Since that time Tom has devoted his time to his private practice.   

Over the course of the past twenty years, Tom has treated a variety of frames, furniture and wooden objects including American, English and Continental examples. Tom has co-authored two "how to" furniture making books published by Schiffer Publications in Atglen, PA. In addition, an article on the treatment of a John and Hugh Finley cornice box for Art and Antiques Magazine was co-authored.  A paper on the fabrication of bent laminated auditorium seats, manufactured for the Wagner Free Institute of Science was presented by Tom in June of 2000, to the American Institute for Conservation's (AIC) Objects Specialty group and subsequently published in the AIC Objects Group Postprints.  Most recently an article was co-authored, on a pair of sofas owned by Elias Boudinot, that was published in the 2011 edition of the Princeton University Art Museum Record.

Being intrigued by the Renaissance workshop of Verrocchio where different crafts were practiced and combining this idea with the Museum conservation department model, Tom helped to establish Belmont Hills Art Conservation Studios in 2003. When treating fine or decorative arts, the insights and skills of various disciplines can often be combined to enhance and ultimately improve the overall treatment. As a co-operative of a group of private conservators practicing various disciplines, consultation among the group members was an important part of the daily approach to the treatment of fine and decorative arts.  In 2010, Heller Conservation Services relocated to Nashville, Tennessee.   There, he and his wife Dawn, a paper conservator, continue to service a client base throughout the middle Atlantic and the southeastern United States.

Membership in professional organizations like the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) allows Tom to remain up to date with the latest techniques and approaches to the treatment of fine and decorative art objects. He is a professional associate of the AIC and served on the AIC membership committee for eight years.