AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting,Wooden Artifacts Group Session, May 10. “Making the Case for Conservation” by Carey Howlett

Carey Howlett suggested that the title of last year’s meeting “Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Ethical Practice and Critical Thinking in Conservation” evoked the first two of Aristotle’s principles, ethos and logos, but the last of these, pathos, fit more comfortably in this year’s topic, Outreach and Advocacy. Pathos is rhetoric that targets emotion, and while emotional appeals may not fit easily with a professional presentation of what we do, conservators do need to create messages that appeal to the emotions of the general public. Drawing from case studies from his career, Carey indicated that too often we focus too strongly on environmental and condition issues in a manner that are emotionally neutral or negative and disconnected from context that conveys why others should care about saving cultural property.

Suggested solutions included sharing the excitement of discovery that comes as a result of examination and technical analysis in a summary in treatment reports provided to stakeholders. Carey illustrated this with his investigation of the painted surfaces on Fouquet’s 1:60 scale plaster model of the Virginia capitol, commissioned in 1787 by Thomas Jefferson.

“Cheap tricks” like repackaging presentation titles to reference popular culture can also provide a hook. The example he gave was retitling a talk he had given to conservators “Conserving the Worsham-Rockefeller Bedroom” as “Extreme Makeover: the Boudoir Edition” for a general audience. The point – to utilize irreverence as a means of engaging- was also brought out Rosa Lowinger’s presentation in the Communicating Conservation session in talking about her posts entitled “Ask the Art Nurse” on the blog and James Jankowski’s suggestion that we all learn to be more “bilingual” when talking about what we do in his presentation during the Articulating Value session.

Further tying this presentation to the one he offered last year, Carey urged us to publish more often, especially in arenas outside of our own, to make our efforts more widely known and understood.

One thought on “AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting,Wooden Artifacts Group Session, May 10. “Making the Case for Conservation” by Carey Howlett”

Comments are closed.