Puerto Rico Deployment of National Heritage Responders

FAIC has been an important resource for many institutions in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane season. Following deployment of a National Heritage Responder (NHR) team in Texas and site visits in Florida, this past week, a team of NHR members were able to provide assessments and training to institutions in Puerto Rico. Due to the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, response from a NHR team was necessarily delayed so resources could be directed to life and safety issues. While there are still significant infrastructure challenges facing residents, the recovery process now includes assessment and salvage of cultural heritage. FAIC had also provided remote support prior to this trip and will continue to work closely with national and local organizations throughout the recovery process.

PR NHR Deployment

Last week, our NHR team visited institutions across the library, archives, and museum field in Puerto Rico. Water damage and resulting mold growth were intensified by power outages and lack of air conditioning, and are the primary concerns at many institutions, less so structural damage due to wind. Mold is a health and safety issue, and NHR members helped provide instruction on proper handling of affected materials and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). In the image above, NHR members evaluate a collection of Puerto Rican artists’ catalogs.

FAIC will continue to provide assistance and support recovery efforts. For more information on our emergency programs, visit our website, http://bit.ly/2okwlX1, and see previous updates on recent emergencies here: http://bit.ly/2AErjb5. We will also continue to provide updates via our social media and member publications.

Even as we continue to respond to Hurricane Maria, we are also monitoring the devastating wildfires in California. Institutions can reach NHR members via phone (202.661.8068) and email (nhr@conservation-us.org).

Associate Professor in Archaeological Conservation (Durham, UK)



The interdisciplinary Department of Archaeology is ranked first in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and is listed as one of the top four archaeology departments in the world in the 2017 QS World University Rankings list. You will therefore bring your expertise of Archaeological Conservation to the department, offering detailed insight into ancient and historical materials and artefacts, and the way in which they are decaying or have been conserved. Taking the lead in “MA in Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects” (which you will ensure remains a professionally recognized conservation qualification), you will also teach various undergraduate and postgraduate modules, reinvigorate our Artefacts Research Group and publish your research with a particular emphasis on conservation.

You’ll need:

  • To be a qualified conservator with professional accreditation (FIIC, ACR or equivalent) and practitioner experience.
  • An excellent track record in internationally recognised research outputs, with particular prominence in the fields of archaeological and historic materials and artefacts.
  • Experience of teaching the practice of conservation, including conservation ethics and preventive conservation.
  • Good leadership and communication skills.
  • A clear research plan covering the next three to five years with knowledge of generating income for research projects.
  • To have a teaching qualification or be willing to attain fellowship of the UK Higher Education Academy.

If you also have a PhD in archaeological/object conservation or a related field, and are able to supervise PhD students, that would be ideal.

For more details, visit: https://www.durham.ac.uk/jobs/recruitment/vacancies/arch18-10/

  • Vacancy reference: ARCH18-10
  • Salary range: Grade 9 £49,772 – £55,998
  • Closing date: Midday on November 27, 2017
  • Location: Durham, North East England, UK (Postcode – DH1 3LE)

Harvey Updates 8/29

As we learn more about Harvey’s impact on the cultural institutions in southeast Texas, we will share updates on conditions and our plans for response.

Until we have information to share, please consider referring to these sites for updated posts:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at4.shtml?cone#contents

New York Time’s Harvey Live Updates: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/us/hurricane-harvey-storm-flooding.html?mcubz=1

ArtNews Updates on Texas Art Museums: http://www.artnews.com/2017/08/27/as-harvey-hits-texas-museums-shutter-082717/


REMINDER: please encourage all local contacts to spread the word about our National Heritage Responders and their free 24/7 hotline for impacted institutions at 202.661.8068.

AIC Presents Forbes Medal to Representatives Royce and Engel

Photo credit: U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee


On June 22, 2017, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) were presented with the American Institute for Conservation’s highest honor, the award of the Forbes Medal, for their bipartisan efforts that resulted in the creation of the “Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act.”

Now passed into law, this act imposes new, stronger import restrictions on antiquities that are trafficked out of Syria. By reducing trade in looted artifacts and the profits from looting, historic sites in the Middle East and the cultural material they contain are better shielded, and, by extension, knowledge of our past, of our shared humanity, is saved.

During the presentation on Capitol Hill, Chairman Royce said, “I want to thank the American Institute for Conservation for all of its important work. We are witnessing a cultural devastation in the Middle East. ISIS, Assad and other parties to the conflict are decimating the region’s Greek, Roman, and Byzantine heritage, and sites and artifacts of importance to all three major faiths, from Sufi Shrines to Jonah’s tomb. The U.S. must always lead in supporting those in conflict zones who are risking their lives to preserve the world’s history for future generations.”

Recent turmoil in the Middle East – particularly in Syria and Iraq – led to a thriving trade in looted artifacts, benefiting organization such as ISIS. AIC is pleased to celebrate these U.S. Congressmen who recognized the dangers of such looting, and worked across the aisle to protect precious cultural heritage from exploitation.

“On behalf of the board of directors of the American Institute for Conservation, I extend our thanks to Representatives Engel and Royce for their individual efforts and for their guidance of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that has both established a precedent for and emphasized the necessity of protecting cultural heritage,” said AIC Executive Director Eryl Wentworth.

“This award is a fitting way to recognize their bipartisan work on behalf of the American and global community to preserve objects and sites of cultural heritage.”

The AIC Forbes Medal celebrates those whose work on national and international platforms has significantly advanced the preservation of cultural heritage.  Prior to honoring Congressmen Engel and Royce, only eight recipients had received this honor since its inception in 1994.

The Forbes Medal is named for Edward Waldo Forbes (1873-1969), who served as director of the Fogg Museum at Harvard University from 1909 through 1944. He founded the country’s first fine arts conservation treatment and research center, and was dedicated to technical research of artworks. Four years after retiring from the Fogg, he founded and served as director of the American Research Center in Egypt.

AIC Board of Directors’ Statement of Solidarity with the Smithsonian Institution

We would like to share the following message from the AIC Board of Directors:

“The American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works decries recent actions that impede the preservation of cultural heritage. The deliberate placement, on two separate occasions, of a noxious symbol of intolerance – a noose – in the galleries of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and on the property of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden interferes with their mission to celebrate and preserve cultural collections. These repugnant acts denigrate the work of our valued conservation colleagues, disrupt the visitor experience, and intimidate potentially new and broader audiences. We believe that the creative achievements and histories of all peoples must be acknowledged and honored through access, interpretation, and preservation. We urge everyone who cares for our cultural heritage to actively support the Smithsonian’s exhibitions and programs.”

To learn more about the events of last week, you can find an article from Smithsonian Magazine here.

If you would like to share this statement, you can also find it here in PDF format.

AIC Members: Vote Now in the 2017 Election!

The 2017 AIC Board of Directors, Nominating Committee, and Specialty Group elections are now open. You will be able to cast your vote through the online voting platform until April 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. 

Associate, Professional Associate, and Fellow members in good standing are eligible to vote in the Board of Directors and Nominating Committee elections. Members of each Specialty Group are eligible to vote in the elections of Specialty Groups of which they are members. Ballots will be checked against eligibility requirements. The ballot also includes candidate biographies and statements.

All AIC members should receive an email containing a link to the ballot. If you are unsure of your current membership status or which positions you are eligible to vote for, you can check your membership at www.conservation-us.org/mymembership. If your membership is current through 2017 and you have not received the ballot by March 23rd, please email us at info@conservation-us.org.

AIC Board of Directors Statement on Travel Restrictions

We would like to share the following statement from the AIC Board of Directors:

“The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) recognizes that cultural heritage belongs to everyone regardless of their faith, color, ethnicity, or nationality. Its care and preservation is a global responsibility and depends upon ongoing collaboration and scholarly exchange within the international conservation community. Only through inclusiveness, can the AIC remain a dynamic and effective professional membership organization. Therefore, the AIC deplores any action taken, such as President Trump’s recently enacted travel ban, to restrict the free entry into the United States of conservation professionals based upon their country of citizenship.”

If you would like to share this statement, it is available here.

ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Nominations Open

AIC would like to share the following message from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

“I am pleased to announce the creation of a new joint award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation will honor historic preservation efforts with affordable housing and community revitalization successes. Agencies, developers, and organizations are encouraged to nominate projects or activities that advance the goals of historic preservation while providing affordable housing and/or expanded economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Preference will be given to projects and activities that do the following:

  • Promote the use of historic buildings for affordable housing, community development, and/or expanded economic opportunities
  • Include HUD funds or financing
  • Meet preservation guidelines
  • Contribute to local community revitalization efforts

This is an annual award. Nominations for the 2017 cycle are due by 11:59 p.m. PDT on March 27, 2017.

Nomination details can be viewed at https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/HUD-Sec-Award-excellence-historic-preservation-2017.pdf. Questions may be addressed to helpdesk@huduser.gov.

We look forward to learning about your achievements!

Milford Wayne Donaldson FAIA
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation”

Belgian Committee of the Blue Shield Seeks Support to Fight Art Trafficking

AIC would like to share the following statement from the Belgian Committee of the Blue Shield:

“After the attacks of 22 March 2016, the Federal Government asserted its determination to combat terrorism in our country.

However, by royal decree of 27 October 2015 establishing the repartition of the personnel of the Federal Police (Belgian Monitor of 30 October 2015) it decided to abolish the ‘Art & Antiques’ section of the Federal Judicial Police, which endeavours to fight the illicit trafficking of works of art.

It is nevertheless well known that the illicit traffic in works of art is one of the sources of finance for international terrorism. In his discourse of 17 November 2015 at UNESCO, President Holland of France made the fight against the illicit traffic in works of art a priority for action:

‘The first of these priorities is the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property. It is important to know that at this moment, the terrorist organisation IS delivers archaeological permits and raises taxes on the works that will then supply the international black market, passing through French ports, havens for the handling and money-laundering, including in Europe.’

At the present time, several western countries are dedicating more staff and resources to combat the illicit trafficking of works of art. This is the case in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain (24 staff versus 8 beforehand), the United States of America (16 staff versus 6 before) and above all France, which has a specialised unit of 25 people. Other countries are taking similar measures. Belgium is therefore resolutely marching against the tides of history.

In international colloquiums, Belgium was clearly identified as a main hub of the illicit trafficking of works of art. In abolishing – particularly now – the ‘Art and Antiquities’ unit of the Federal Judicial Police, our country does not give the right signals.

Several national and international organisations, namely INTERPOL and the UN, complained to the Federal Government about this measure, pointing out that Belgium is no longer able to fulfill its international obligations. Furthermore, the abolition of the judiciary unit ‘Art & Antiquities’ risks damaging the reputation of Belgium, already tarnished by criticism after the Paris attacks for the way in which our country handles the fight against terrorism.

In abolishing the ‘Art & Antiquities’ unit, a specialised contact group disappears. It will no longer be possible to reply to specific questions from Interpol, foreign customs services and other authorities and international organisations. Even worse, the database that is managed by this judicial section will no longer be updated. Belgium will become the weak link in the battle against the financing of terrorism and the illicit trafficking of works of art. It will be very difficult to repair the damage which will result and considerable financial means will be needed.

More alarmingly, Paris Match revealed recently that ‘one of the perpetrators of the deadly attacks at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station in March of this year actively participated in the trafficking of works of art in Belgium, and relatively recently. Around him were other characters, apparently linked to Salah Abdeslam.’ Without being able to confirm that there could be a link between the attacks in Brussels and the illicit trafficking of works of art, this information should underline that the negligence of the Federal Government could cost us all dearly.

Sign the Petition (Site in French)

Minister of the Interior,
Minister of Justice,

In abolishing the ‘Art & Antiquities’ unit of the Federal Judicial Police, you are putting Belgian citizens, as well as the citizens of other countries, in danger.

The fight against terrorism, and therefore its financing, must be one of your priorities.

We ask you to reverse your decision to abolish the ‘Art & Antiquities’ unit of the Federal Judicial Police, and to work towards strengthening it.  We want see the restoration of Belgium’s image abroad through the respect of its international obligations and by lending support to the efforts to prevent new innocent victims.

The authors of the petition :

Myriam Serck-Dewaide
Gustaaf Janssens

The Belgian committee of the Blue Shield asbl, is a coordinating body bringing together representatives of Belgian authorities, both federal and federated, and international organisations, including experts in the protection and management of cultural heritage. It works towards the enforcement of compliance with The Hague Convention of 1954 and its Protocols in relation to the protection of cultural property in the case of armed conflict. http://www.blueshieldbelgium.be/francais/frfindex.htm

You can sign the petition here.

AIC Board of Directors Statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

We would like to share the following statement from the AIC Board of Directors:
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works strongly supports the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation) and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) across treaty land.  As the national professional organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage, we deplore the destruction or desecration of any historic or sacred site, and are deeply concerned by the current threat posed to such cultural heritage by the DAPL.  We are committed to collaborating with native people and support the preservation and long-term stewardship of their culturally significant sites.  For these reasons, we join with allied agencies, including the American Alliance of Museums, the American Anthropological Association, and the Society for American Archaeology, to condemn any negative impact of the DAPL on historic and sacred sites.
Approved by the AIC Board of Directors
December 1, 2016
To view and share the statement, click here.