Call for Participants: AIC National Courier Network System Working Group

AIC National Courier Network System Working Group:
The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) National Courier Network System Working Group is seeking three museum professionals to study the role of the courier and to evaluate the feasibility of reducing the carbon footprint of museum loans through reduced courier travel. The working group tasks will be divided into phases.  In the first phase the group will write a survey with the goal of understanding different museums, galleries, collectors, and other heritage institutions’ approaches and protocols regarding loaning objects.  The survey results will ultimately be applied towards a White Paper where the working group will outline the necessary steps to creating and implementing a Courier Network System (CNS).  In the CNS, qualified museum professionals would provide courier services to their local museums and institutions, drastically reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impact of a museum loan. The CNS would substantially fulfill the museum community’s goals towards more sustainable practices with key environmental and economical benefits not only for public institutions but for the private practitioners as well.
Term for writing survey: June 10- July 30, 2015
Term for evaluating survey results: August 1- October 1, 2015
Please send a short written statement concerning your interest in the committee and your cv to Sarah Nunberg at by June 1, 2015.

CALL FOR MEMBERS: AIC Sustainability Committee

The AIC Sustainability Committee Seeks a Professional Member
Term: June 2015 – May 2017
The Sustainability Committee is a dynamic group of conservation professionals with diverse specialties whose mission is to provide AIC members with resources on sustainability. At the AIC annual meetings, we host sustainability-themed sessions where members share their experiences and tips, and have a booth in the vendor hall where we share the committee’s work and “green” conservation products with the attendees. Throughout the year, we keep the AIC Sustainable Practices Wiki up-to-date, and write on the AIC Blog and for the AIC News on research topics of interest.
 The committee aims to:

  • Provide resources for AIC members and other caretakers of cultural heritage regarding environmentally sustainable approaches to preventive care and other aspects of conservation practice. Resources may be provided via electronic media, workshops, publications and presentations.
  • Define research topics and suggest working groups as needed to explore sustainable conservation practices and new technologies.

Membership Parameters:

  • The committee is comprised of 8 voting members.
  • Members serve for two years, with an additional two-year term option.
  • One member is a conservation graduate student.
  • One member serves as chair for two years.
  • During the second year of the chair’s term, another member serves as chair designate, assisting with and learning the chair’s responsibilities.
  • As needed, corresponding (non-voting) members and non-AIC experts will be invited to guide research on special topics.


  • Telephone conference calls with the committee members- about once a month.
  • Research, write and edit the AIC Wiki Sustainable Practices Page.
  • Participate in researching and writing any group presentations, publications, blogs, and social media posts.
  • Initiate and support committee projects to increase awareness of sustainable practices in the conservation community.
  • Collaborate with related committees, networks, and working groups.

Please submit a statement of purpose (1 page maximum length) and your resume by March 31, 2015 to Betsy Haude, Committee Chair.
Contact: Betsy Haude,

42nd Annual Meeting, Objects Session, May 30, "Collaborative study and preservation of coastal Alaskan Native material culture with university students, museum staff, Alutiiq scholars and artists, and the visiting public"

T. Rose Holdcraft presented a decade-long collaborative project between Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Cambridge, MA) and the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository (Kodiak, AK).  The joint initiative, funded by a IMLS Save America’s Treasures grant in 2011, sought to conserve and enhance access to an at-risk Alaska Native collection in the Peabody Museum. 
The collection includes four Alutiiq kayaks and over 100 associated objects, including harpoons, kayak models, and skin-constructed parkas, pouches, boots, among others.  Items of particular import include a rare warrior’s kayak identified as Alutiiq by its bifurcated bow, as well as the only known example of a full-sized double bladed paddle*. Many of the collection items were acquired from a US Army surveyor working in Alaska circa 1867. At that time, ocean going watercraft remained the primary means of transportation. Alutiiq kayaks are thus culturally and historically significant, yet knowledge of their manufacture method had nearly been lost because their use was formerly preserved largely through oral history.
Alutiiq consultants included Sven Haakanson, former director of the Alutiiq Museum, Alutiiq elder Ronnie Lind, Alutiiq skin-sewer Susan Malutin, and traditionally-trained Kodiak Alutiiq kayak-maker Alfred Naumoff.  Workshops taught at the Peabody included skin sewing techniques by Susan Malutin, and kayak model building by Alfred Naumoff.  In addition to two site visits, video conferencing and camera scopes enabled communication with consultants so that sampling requests, treatment, and housing decisions could collaboratively advance from afar.
A publicly accessible work space was created in the Peabody galleries, in which the treatment of the kayaks and other objects was undertaken.  Conservators were available to answer questions from museum visitors three afternoons per week. Meanwhile, a dedicated Facebook page provided project updates and highlights.  Related educational programs included an object-centered Museum Anthropology course, which was conducted within the gallery work space as well as the lab.
Additionally, PMF-MALDI-TOF was used to characterize skin and sinew thread types. Humpback whale sinew was identified on one kayak, as well as bearded seal skin (formerly presumed to be sea lion skin)! The analytic results enable comparisons between current and historical material use.  Study and stabilization of the collection will enable its long-term loan to the Alutiiq Museum, thereby preserving and repatriating traditional knowledge to the Alutiiq community.
*According to Sven Haakanson, a contemporary Alutiiq artist carved a new paddle from a sketch of the double-bladed original in the Peabody’s collection.  After testing it in Kodiak, he reports that his paddle’s exit from the water is silent as compared to plastic versions.  For those interested, Haakanson plans to teach double-bladed kayak making in Seattle.

42nd Annual Meeting – Architecture + Objects Session, May 29, “Modern Preservation for a Modernist City: Developing a District-Wide Preservation Plan for Columbus, Indiana”

If you are a fan of mid-century modern architecture, Columbus, Indiana, is not to be missed.  I drove straight there after hearing this NPR story about the “The Midwest Mecca of Architecture” in 2012, and was thus thrilled to attend Richard McCoy’s presentation on the subject.  The town of 44,000 residents boasts 7 of Indiana’s 35 National Historic Landmarks. 6 were designed between 1942 – 1965, when Cummins Inc. elected to pay all architect fees for new civic structures, attracting the likes of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, Henry Moore, and Dale Chihuly, to name a few.  Construction of schools, churches, parks, and office buildings was founded on the principle that the built environment is crucial to a quality community.
McCoy has been tasked with forming a preservation plan to preserve Columbus’ architectural wealth, while not restricting the town’s ability to grow and thrive within its historic landscape.  His talk, retitled “The Columbus Challenge”, discussed the initial stages of guiding the town- and its residents- into a new way of caring for its cultural heritage.
What is the goal? To create a preservation process for historic architecture, landscaping, and public art located within the Columbus Arts District.  The plan should be: useful and fun, foster community, educate, raise and distribute funds, and provide for a sustainable future.
How?  First, put information in highly visible places. As McCoy states: “If you can’t Google it and get back good information, then it doesn’t exist”.
Actions: Wikipedia inventories of landmarks, modern and historic buildings, public art, as well as architect biographies were published.  Public artworks were also made accessible on The Public Art Archive and CultureNOW’s Museum Without Walls. Several previously undocumented artworks were ‘discovered’, and a total of 440 building entries were recorded during the inventory process.
Next steps: Develop stakeholder support and engagement, as well as connect with allied organizations, understanding that all answers to a preservation policy must originate from- and be sustained by- the community itself.
Your next step: Visit Columbus. Take a tour and then eat ice cream at Zaharakos’ (est. 1900) marble counter.