Forbes Prize Lecture 2020: Norman H Tennent

The Forbes Prize Lecture has been delivered at every IIC Congress since the Rome Congress in 1961. It is given by a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of conservation; the first Forbes Prize lecture was given by Harold Plenderleith.

In 2020, the lecture ‘Spanning the Decades: Personalities, Perspectives and Priorities in Conservation Science’. was delivered by Professor Norman H Tennent.  Against the background of the Covid-19 epidemic, this lecture is the first that could not be given in front of a live audience. However, it was pre-recorded at Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, a building  with a history extending back 1,500 years and one of Scotland’s most impressive and atmospheric settings.

Appropriately in IIC's 70th year, the lecture looked at personal specialisms and institutional memory, with a particular focus on the work of Robert Brill, Patrick Ritchie, Robert Feller, Rene Van Tassel and Robert Organ. It captures the importance of research in conservation stretching back to the 1930s.


Over a 40 year career, Professor Norman H Tennent BSc, PhD, CChem, MRSC has led major conservation work including  on the Rose Window, York Minister, mosaics of Holy Souls Chapel, Westminster Cathedral and internal stonework of the City Museum, Glasgow. His research specialisms include pollution in the museum environment, degradation of plastic collections, polymers for conservation and technical study and conservation of ceramics, glass and metals. He has previously been a teacher and researcher at many university settings including Professor of Conservation Science, University of Amsterdam (2009 – 14) and is currently Distinguished Visiting Research Scholar, University of Texas at Dallas. He is a longstanding Fellow, friend and supporter of IIC, and a previous Editor of Studies in Conservation (1979 – 85).

Previous Forbes Lecture Prize winners

Recent Forbes Prize Lecturers have also included Stefan Michalski (Turin, 2018), Carol Mancusi-Ungaro (Los Angeles, 2016), Dr. Jixiang Shan (Hong Kong, 2014), Manfred Koller (Vienna 2012) and David Lowenthal (Istanbul, 2010). The full list of recipients is here and some lectures are available for download.

Still from the Forbes Prize Lecture film 2020, Broderick Castle, Isle of Arran.

Still from the Forbes Prize Lecture film 2020, Broderick Castle, Isle of Arran.