I am a third-year fellow in the Winterthur / UD Program in Art Conservation, and this year’s annual meeting in Philadelphia was my first. I was amazed at the sheer size of the conference, the number of conservators, students, scientists and educators present, and at the expanse of topics discussed during the talks. As bewildering as the event often felt, it was wonderful to be able to engage in conversations with friends and colleagues. I was extremely impressed with the strong presence of emerging conservators, especially the many pre-programmers who ventured to Philly. It was equally inspiring to watch the many leaders in the field present at the meeting share their expertise, and engage in discussions with young professionals.
As with any new experience there were many surprises. I did not realize how much I would regret not having a business card – everyone, pre-programmers, students, and recent graduates should have one. During the meeting I had the opportunity to deliver a talk, and while I felt prepared in the moment, I was surprised at the amount of interest people showed when I was approached with questions afterward. I am very glad that the talk – as well as those delivered by two of my classmates – were so well received. It showed me that student research has a place at AIC conferences, and is valued by many in our profession.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend this year’s AIC meeting, which would not have been possible without the support of the FAIC George Stout Grant, as well as the gracious hospitality of two of my WUDPAC classmates. It was inspiring to see many conservators at so many levels in their careers together in one venue, and to observe such an active exchange of ideas between them. The online tools that enable this exchange are helping us make the most of the collaborative relationships we build at these conferences. It would be great to see the debates raised during the general and specialty group sessions continue on some of these available platforms – including the AIC and ECPN blogs, as well as the email distribution lists (which, I have heard many say, would benefit from an inter-specialty-exchange of ideas).