Clara Goolsby ’24
Major: Biochemistry and Classics and Archaeology
Next Step: Graduate School for conservation
Clara Goolsby ’24 has spent the majority of her undergraduate career at LMU preparing for a career in the cultural heritage field. As a biochemistry and classics and archaeology double major, she has developed an understanding of the chemical processes that artifacts undergo as they age and how best to preserve objects in their current condition in order to sustain the historical record. She has also gained an ability to build a historical narrative from material culture. Goolsby’s background and upbringing lend her an affinity for storytelling and examining cultural perspectives.
Goolsby is originally from Texas, which gave her a unique understanding of the importance of which historical narratives are perpetuated. Between her sophomore and junior year of high school, she was accepted into NYU’s precollege program, where she took a course called “Urban Cultural Life” and was able to explore the museum scene of New York City and the material culture of a living, multicultural city. During her time at NYU, Goolsby was the recipient of the Darlene Forrest Award for excellence in writing, a skill which she was able to carry into her time at LMU. Once she arrived at LMU, Goolsby was able to apply this understanding of historical narrative through material culture to her education in the classics and archaeology department.
During her time at LMU, she has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of objects through the on-campus Archaeology Center with Dr. Caroline Sauvage and Dr. Heidi Fessler. Additionally, she has participated in the classics and archaeology department's joint projects with Special Collections, the theater department, the chemistry department, and conservator Elise Yvonne Morin-Rousseau for the annual textile conservation course held in the spring. Through these practical experiences, Goolsby was able to gain a understanding of archival and museum databases and how objects are stored and treated in order to produce the most user-friendly catalogs and keep objects in stable condition for extended periods of time. These hands-on experiences, in addition to her work in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Ryan Hunt in the chemistry department, were the integral experiences to preparing her for her future in conservation. Her understanding of the importance of preserving artifacts and art objects while still furthering scientific knowledge of the pieces that make up the whole object allowed her to gain an appreciation for the importance of reference collections to conservation of objects. This understanding was the deciding factor in receiving an internship in the conservation center at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the spring of her junior year at LMU. At LACMA she was responsible for performing spectroscopic analysis of the museum’s reference collection and compiling a database of the materials within, similar to her duties in LMU’s Archaeology Center and Dr. Hunt’s research lab.
Goolsby also secured one of the two inaugural internships with the Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Chania, Greece for the summer between her junior and senior year at LMU. This opportunity was earned through her work with the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival (LAGFF) through Dr. Katerina Zacharia’s course Representations of Greece: Ancient and Modern, and a collaboration between the synagogue and LMU’s Jewish Studies and Classics and Archaeology programs. In her role with the LAGFF she was able to gain experience building online databases as well as public facing websites and resources, skills that are instrumental in her roles at LACMA and in her public-facing internship at the Etz Hayyim Synagogue.
After graduation Goolsby hopes to attend a graduate program for conservation, specializing in textiles, to pursue her goal of working as a conservator. Her advice to current LMU students is to explore everything that they possibly can and try to develop as many skills as possible.