Jane Foley, 1950-2021


“Jane Foley, who graduated from the Conservation course in 1996, has died at her home in Wales. Jane joined the course in mid career, having previously run a gallery and worked in the London office of the New York Times. Clearly conservation was the right place for her, and from the outset she approached the subject with courage, determination and indefatigable interest. As a student she was quickly came to understand the wider context in which conservation functions and approached problem solving with insight and enthusiasm. She was awarded the Conservation Prize.

Following graduation, Jane worked for five years in the Stone, Wall Paintings and Mosaics Conservation section at the British Museum, becoming involved in the management of several significant projects including a major touring exhibition, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, History to Myth. This took her to Alexandria where she collaborated with Egyptian conservators, working alongside them to create mounting systems for the exhibition.

Jane was never deterred by challenges, even when it meant having to quickly learn a new range of skills and involved working in difficult environments. Whilst at the British Museum, she began working on archaeological sites and became head of conservation for the Amorium Excavation Project in Turkey, a post she held for 10 years. Balancing the concerns of the archaeologists, the local authorities, conflicting personalities and significant conservation challenges, Jane brought a rigour and ethical approach to the work, all managed and delivered with a very dry sense of humour.

Her work at the British Museum also took Jane to Chicago where she met Inez Litas who became her wife and business partner, working both in Chicago and in Wales. Their practice in Chicago involved Jane in a remarkable range of conservation projects including a German submarine and a dinosaur as well as modern and contemporary sculpture, exemplifying her skill at addressing problems, her energy and enthusiasm for always learning more.

Jane was always generous with her time and her knowledge, willing to help anyone and committed to teaching and engaging people with conservation. She worked with the Field Museum, Chicago, to run training for Iraqi museum staff, to help them conserve collections badly affected by war. She wanted people to become self sufficient, to acquire skills but also, importantly, to understand the bigger picture. Her friend and colleague, Rian Kanduth, who worked with Jane on a number of archaeological sites and conservation projects, said working with Jane was like doing an MA, in that you were inevitably continually learning and developing.

In recent years Jane and Inez decided to retire to Wales, and although Jane continued working, they planned to pursue other interests and adventures. Sadly, Jane was involved in a serious car accident from which she battled, with characteristic determination, to recover, and then in 2020 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her strength and will to live, her rationality, generosity and humour were with her to the very end of her life.”

Jane Freda Conroy Foley, 1950-2021.

Jennifer Dinsmore (Leading Tutor: Stone Conservation) and Rian Kanduth (Gilding Tutor)


Images show Jane at Amormorium, an archaeological site in central Turkey where she was Head of Conservation and Joint Assistant Director from 2003 to 2013.



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