Originally from small-town Manitoba, Val is a Conservator at Auckland Museum. She has worked here for the last 12 years.
Her past life took her through various careers, including being a chemist, where her early work involved nuking blueberries for Atomic Energy of Canada, and other nuclear research work in Germany. She started out in chemistry because of her background coming from a town full of nuclear scientists, but she rapidly realised that chemistry was not her life’s ambition. Val turned to art school after her chemistry degree, but she also found that art was not her true calling either.
Val found her calling following a summer job where she joined a Kung Fu club. She loved it so much that she had to find a new degree to do in order to stay, which is how she discovered conservation. Since then, she has worked as a conservator at multiple heritage institutions around the world in Canada, England, Norway, and now in New Zealand.
While between conservation contracts, Val worked for several years in the Canadian Arctic as a librarian at a research centre. This took her through such well-known librarian tasks as: navigating a helicopter to Grizzly bear dens for a researcher; working as a site conservator on an archaeological dig on an Inuit house on a (now) uninhabited arctic island; and retrieving a prehistoric Steppe Bison from the permafrost for the Canadian Museum community. She also flew search and rescue missions as a navigator in her spare time.