Vanessa graduated from the University of Canberra in 2002, with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree (Conservation of Cultural Materials), specialising in the conservation of paintings. She also holds a BA in Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne (1998). Vanessa is a professional member of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials.

Vanessa initially joined the Centre in 2003, as a post-graduate intern, and has subsequently continued working with the Centre as a paintings conservator. Vanessa also assists with the academic and training programs.

Vanessa's main research interest is the conservation of contemporary and modern art. Her past research projects include a study into the use of pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for analysing alkyd resin paint binders, and investigations into the materials and techniques of a number of twentieth century artists. She undertook further, specialised training in this area at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2006), where she was a Helena Rubenstein intern at and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2007-08), where she was a Samuel H. Kress Fellow.

Vanessa also has an interest in the conservation and preservation of Indigenous Australian art, and has worked with Indigenous Art Centres across central and northern Australia, in Warmun, Kununurra, Kintore and Yirrkala.


Professional member, Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM)

Standard member, International Council of Museums (ICOM)

Standard member, International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA)


  • 2009 University of Melbourne, Arts Faculty, conference grant
  • 2007 Samuel H. Kress Fellowship, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • 2006 Besen Family Foundation Grant, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2006 Helena Rubinstein Summer Internship, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2006 Getty Foundation, Museum Conservation Grant (on behalf of Vietnam Museum of Ethnology)
  • 2005 Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • 2004 Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant


Book Chapters

  • McMillan, G. and V. Kowalski, 2009, 'Kandinsky's Materials and Techniques: A Preliminary Study of Five Paintings', Kandinsky, Guggenheim Museum Publications, New York, pp. 121 - 133.

Journal Articles (*Refereed Journals)

  • *Fry, C., Kowalski, V. and Nunn, C. 2017 ‘”Landscape in Miniature” - The use of the gum leaf as a painting support in colonial Victoria,’ AICCM Bulletin, Vol. 38, Issue 2, 2017, pp. 63 – 69.
  • Sloggett, R and V. Kowalski, 2015, 'Building evidence for use in criminal cases - standard practice methodologies - A case study in Australia,' Authentication in Art - Congress Papers, Online publication []
  • *Carrington, S, Kimberley, J, Kowalski, V, Lewincamp, S, Mung Mung, P, Nodea, G, Park, R, Scott, M, Sloggett, R, 2014. ‘Conservation and the production of shared knowledge’, in J Bridgeland (ed.), ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, 15-19 September, Melbourne, 2014, 0303, 8 pp., International Council of Museums, Paris, (ISBN 978-92-9012-410-8).
  • *Davidson, C, Kowalski, V, Kredler, V, Marawili, D, Sloggett, R, and Stubbs, W. 2014 ‘Harvesting Traditional Knowledge: The conservation of Indigenous Australian bark paintings, in J Bridgeland (ed.), ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, 15-19 September, Melbourne, 2014, 1304, 8 pp., International Council of Museums, Paris, (ISBN 978-92-9012-410-8).
  • *Kowalski, V. and Tse, N. 2014 ‘Arthur Boyd’s painting materials in the 1940s: a case study of works from the Heide Museum of Modern Art Collection’, AICCM Bulletin, Vol. 34, pp. 24 – 33.
  • *Hill, C. and V. Kowalski, 2009, 'The Grossi Florentino Project - A private collection in a public space,' AICCM Bulletin, 2009, pp. 25 - 32.
  • Nunn, C. and V. Kowalski, 2009, 'Saving Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer, The conservation of a 20th century painting,'University of Melbourne Collections, Issue 4, June 2009, pp. 51 - 52.
  • Kowalski, V. 2005, 'A preliminary Investigation into the Materials and Techniques of Ludwig Hirschfield Mack' Art Events Ideas, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne, Issue 2, pp. 10 - 11.

Exhibition Catalogue Essays

  • Tse, N., Lewincamp, S. and V. Kowalski. 2012, 'Mike Brown, 15 Views of Gippsland A case study of conservation treatment,' Made To Last: the conservation of art, curated by Sherryn Vardy, A NETS Victoria exhibition in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and supported by Latrobe Regional Gallery, pp. 36 - 39.

Press Articles

  • Kowalski, V., Sandgren, H. and Cvetanoski, C. 2015 ‘Pintupi Homelands Health Services Storyboard Conservation Project’, AICCM National Newsletter, November 2015, published online []
  • Kowalski, V. 2013 'Harvesting Traditional Knowledge Workshop - Yolgnu-lead two-way learning in the production and conservation of bark' AICCM National Newsletter, No. 125, July 2013, pp. 7 - 8.
  • Kowalski, V., Lewincamp, S & Kimberley, J. 2013 'Warmun Art Collection Project - Completion of the conservation treatment and its return to the Warmun Community' AICCM National Newsletter, No. 125, July 2013, pp. 9 - 10.
  • Kowalski, V. 2008, 'Conservation Conversation, Cultural Treasures Days' Trouble Magazine, September Issue, pp 14 - 15.
  • Kowalski, V. 2008, 'Conservation of Shaman Ceremonial Paintings' Trouble Magazine, February Issue.
  • Kowalski, V. 2006 'Conservation of Shaman Ceremonial Paintings at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology' AICCM National Newsletter, No. 99, June 2006, pp. 4 - 6.
  • Kowalski, V. 2004 '"IIC Congress, Modern Art - New Museums" Review of the IIC Congress, Bilbao 2004' AICCM National Newsletter, No. 93, December 2004, pp. 16 - 17.