43rd Annual Meeting, Private Practice + Health & Safety Luncheon, "Studio Design Challenges: Creating a Safe and Practical Space" by Jeff Hirsch, William Jarema, Dan Klein and Roger Rudy

Whether or not you were lucky enough to have attended the luncheon on create safe and practical conservation studios, you will be happy to know that the entire PowerPoint is available on the Health & Safety site (http://www.conservation-us.org/publications-resources/health-safety/other-resources#.VV9GjU_Byyo). The presenters are architects and engineers with EwingCole, and were extremely generous in sharing their expertise. Having conducted numerous interviews with conservators in private practice (mostly paintings and paper), and toured many studios and labs, the presenters were able to provide specific examples of both challenges and solutions. The luncheon was divided into 2 sections, each with round table presentations followed by time for questions.
During the first section, the discussion focused on ways to identify and understand risks (probability and severity). Practical tips were provided to ensure safe storage for chemicals both at the work space and in cabinets. A broad discussion about workplace design started with information about different types of buildings, concerns about adjacent spaces, and the importance of accounting for all people who might be in a studio space (including children and pets). Fire prevention, detection, and suppression were covered. The section on ergonomics included a tip that I particularly appreciated – a board for step aerobics can provide adjustable heights for conservators working at tall tables.

Example of one of the many height-adjustable boards for step aerobics.

The second section included information about air flow and exhaust. Since many conservators are concerned about the management of fumes, this generated a lively discussion with many questions. The PowerPoint includes a number of helpful charts, tables, and equations to help conservators determine the ventilation needs and capabilities of their spaces. Also included are case studies with practical solutions to ventilation needs, as well as links for helpful online resources.

43rd Annual Meeting – Textile Specialty Group, "The Effect of Light Emitting Diode Lamps (LEDs) on 19th century Dyed & Printed Cotton Fabrics," Mary Ballard, Courtney Bolin, Taylor McClean

Although Mary Ballard was unable to attend the conference, Ines Madruga, Paintings Conservation Fellow at the Smithsonian’s MCI, read the paper and gave a dynamic presentation. Mary and her coauthors worked closely with the color scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to explore the ways in which differently colored LED lights can change perceptions of colored textiles. They used samples from a 19th-century handbook for dyeing and printing cotton and the Spectrally Tunable Lighting Facility at NIST. 
The “Practical Handbook of Dyeing and Calico-Printing” was published by William Crooke 1874. Since each sample in the handbook included detailed information about the dye used, the results of the study should be informative for many textiles made on or before 1874.
The STLF is able to simulate many different types of light, measure spectra, and provide side-by-side comparisons. For more information, visit their website (http://www.nist.gov/pml/div685/grp03/vision_lighting.cfm). After comparing the samples in many different types of light, the authors were able to create a guideline with recommendations for LED lights that provide the best overall color.
The NIST website has many helpful resources, including a spreadsheet with Color Quality Scale information. The spreadsheet allows users to predict how how color qualities will change with different lights. The spreadsheet, which includes a tab with directions for use, can be downloaded here.
This presentation builds on work presented at the previous AIC meeting. For additional information, consult this paper:
Bolin, Courtney, Mary Ballard, and Scott Rosenfeld. 2014. “Assessing Colorants by Light.” (http://aics42ndannualmeeting2014.sched.org/event/ca5c64b579ff2d67e284decc878e72ee#.VV9Euk_Byyo)

42nd Annual Meeting, Textiles Session, May 30th, “Managing Sustainability of Light Sensitive Collections” by Stefan Michalski

Stefan Michalski began his presentation with a dramatic use of neckties. He held up 2 neckties – 1 with the colors very faded – and spoke about the common concern about potential color change and loss for textile objects on exhibition. He then went on to discuss the assumptions that are made about light levels, exhibition schedules, and gallery rotations. His presentation focused on the complex choices that conservators must make to protect collections from color change and loss, while also making them accessible.
Most of the presentation focused on a dilemma: should we rotate an entire collection or display half the collection and preserve the other half in storage. From which system will the most people gain the most benefit from the collection? The rotation system allows twice as many people to have access to the collection, but leads to irreversible damage to the entire collection over time. The half-and-half system allows fewer people to have access to the collection, but might be considered more sustainable since half the collection would be fully preserved.
He concluded that the practice of rotating objects on display might be considered shortsighted, and to the advantage of living generations of museum visitors. Over the next couple hundred years, this practice could lead to entire collections become equally faded. The museum visitors and scholars in the more distant future would not have any pristine textiles to examine – only faded textiles would be available. He suggested that the newest pieces in a collection might actually be the most fragile from a color damage perspective; a textile with pristine colors might be more likely to experience fading than one that has already had significant exposure and has reached a plateau of fading. His final comment to the audience was that conservators should carefully consider the value of experiencing pristine textiles, and question if we owe this experience to generations in the far future.