Call for Participation: New Annual Meeting Event “A Failure Shared is Not a Failure”

AIC members from all specialty groups are invited to attend and participate in the event “A failure shared is not a failure: learning from our mistakes,” happening on Saturday, June 2nd, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. — click here to add it to your Sched. We will gather and share our cautionary tales, including treatment errors, mishaps, and accidents, with the idea of helping our colleagues not to repeat them.

Discussing mistakes is a hot topic that has already been embraced by others in our community. Two examples of events scheduled during the month of May are: “Mistakes were made,” a regular feature at the American Alliance of Museums conference, and the lecture “Conservation Confidential” hosted by our conservation colleagues across the pond in the Independent Paper Conservators’ Group.

Participants can speak for up to 5 minutes; if you prefer to remain anonymous, a reader will be happy to present your tale on your behalf. If you are unable to attend AIC’s Annual Meeting but would like to submit a tale to be read by one of our organizers or a colleague, please reach out.

Screens to project PowerPoint slides containing your images/video will be available (16:9 format), and a Dropbox folder will be made available for submissions. Please also bring your presentation on a USB Drive (highly encouraged). Time permitting, audience members inspired by their colleagues will be welcome to present. If appropriate (and acceptable to the speaker), the floor will be opened for questions and discussion following presentations. Extra points for suggesting safeguards and solutions!

Please note that this is a forum for sharing personal mistakes and solutions only. Participants are requested not to name other persons, organizations, work places, and avoid politics—institutional, national, and global!

The event will include a cash bar, so come, relax, unwind, share, laugh, groan, and learn. We plan to publish the event for those who wish to be included.

If you are interested in participating or have questions about the event, please contact Tony Sigel at or by calling 617-767-1900 (cell), or Rebecca Gridley at by May 10th.

Please include 2-3 quick sentences introducing your topic and indicate whether you plan to use a PowerPoint with images and/or video.

See you in Houston!

AIC’s Education and Training Committee Seeks New Members

The Education and Training Committee (ETC) seeks new members for a three-year term, beginning May 2018 with the opportunity to renew for a second three-year term. Transitions are scheduled to coincide with the AIC Annual Meeting.

The ETC is charged with guiding AIC in its efforts to advance the membership’s knowledge of conservation practice and scholarship. Activities include reviewing grant applications for FAIC professional development, providing input on strategic planning as it relates to AIC’s educational goals, assisting in the development and evaluation of continuing education programs, updating content on the AIC website and wiki, and providing support for the K-12 Outreach Working Group and to the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network.

ETC communicates primarily via email correspondence and the occasional conference call. The committee meets in-person annually at the AIC meeting. Work commitment is variable and flexible given personal scheduling demands. Rewards include developing ties to other members in the AIC community and insight into the research and educational efforts of the membership at large while helping to shape AIC’s efforts to meet those goals.

ETC welcomes applicants from any specialty group or network and seeks a balance of representation. To apply, please submit a brief statement of interest and your resume to Brenna Campbell, ETC Chair ( by April 15, 2017. Final appointment decisions to the committee are made by AIC’s Board of Directors.

ECPN Fall Webinar Announcement – Showcasing Your Work: Preparing and Maintaining a Conservation Portfolio

The Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) is pleased to announce our upcoming webinar, “Showcasing Your Work: Preparing and Maintaining a Conservation Portfolio,” taking place on Tuesday, November 14th from 12:30-1:30 pm EST.

A well-conceived and eye-catching portfolio can be crucial for emerging conservation professionals to progress in the field. But when is a digital portfolio appropriate versus a hard-copy portfolio? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? How should your portfolio evolve as you progress in your career? This Webinar will cover the creation and use of digital and hard-copy portfolios in various scenarios and early-career stages, from pre-program candidate to graduate student and post-graduate.

ECPN has invited two speakers to provide different perspectives on this topic. Susan Heald, Textile Conservator at the National Museum of the American Indian, will discuss her experience reviewing portfolios as part of internship and fellowship applications. Gwen Manthey, a paintings conservator who has worked in both private practice and museums, will speak about digital portfolios, including the practicalities of compiling and maintaining one.

ECPN is seeking submissions for the Q&A session following the speakers’ presentations. To submit your questions in advance, please post in the comments section below or send them via email to Questions will be accepted until the morning of the webinar, or can be submitted during the presentations via the GoToWebinar platform.

Attendance is free and open to all AIC members. Please register here to watch the webinar. If you are unable to view the program on November 14, or are not a member of AIC, the full video will be recorded and uploaded onto the AIC YouTube Channel following the broadcast.


Please see below to learn more about our speakers:

SUSAN HEALD has been the National Museum of the American Indian’s textile conservator since 1994, where she has supervised many pre-program interns and post-graduate fellows. Prior to NMAI, she served as the Minnesota Historical Society’s textile conservator, and was a Smithsonian Conservation Analytical Lab postgraduate fellow. She holds an MS in Art Conservation (textile major/objects minor) from the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum, and a BA in Chemistry and Anthropology from the George Washington University. She served as chair and vice-chair for the AIC Textile Specialty Group (1997-98), and as a board member for the North American Textile Conservation Conference (2004-09).

GWEN MANTHEY is the newly-appointed Contract Interim Paintings Conservator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and maintains a private practice outside of Philadelphia. Prior positions include Assistant Paintings Conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA), and the Wyeth Fellow for American Art at the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD). A graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (B.A.S, M.S., C.A.S.), she is serving as Program Chair for the Philadelphia Area Conservation Association and a mentor for ECPN-HBCU Mentor-Pilot Program.


— Posted on behalf of ECPN Webinar Coordinator Jen Munch (

Welcome 2017-18 ECPN Officers!

We are happy to introduce the officers of Emerging Conservation Professionals Network for the 2017-2018 term! We are grateful for the dedication and service of ECPN’s outgoing officers Jessica Walthew, Kimi Taira, and Alexa Beller; our AIC Board Liaison Stephanie Lussier; and our Regional, Graduate Program, Specialty Group, and Committee liaisons; and our outgoing Chair, Michelle Sullivan. We wish you all the best and hope to see you involved in future AIC and ECPN initiatives!


2016-17 and 2017-18 ECPN Officers at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Chicago

Back row (left to right): Caitlin Richeson, Jen Munch, Eve Mayberger, Michelle Sullivan, Kat Fanning, and Stephanie Lussier (AIC Board Liaison)
Front row (left to right): Kimi Taira, Alexa Beller, Jessica Walthew, Rebecca Gridley, and Kari Rayner


Meet the 2017-2018 ECPN Officers:

Rebecca Gridley, Chair
Rebecca holds a BA in Art History from Yale University, and an MS in Conservation and MA in Art History & Archaeology from the Conservation Center, The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She is currently an Assistant Conservator in the Objects Conservation Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she completed her internship year placement. She has also held graduate internships at The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Frick Collection, and the American Museum of Natural History. Before graduate school she worked in private practices in Chicago and New York. She previously served for ECPN as Vice Chair (2016-17) and Communications Co-Officer (2015-16).

Kari Rayner, Vice Chair
Kari graduated with a BA in Art History and a second major in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University. She holds an MA in Art History and Advanced Certificate in Art Conservation with a specialization in paintings conservation from the Conservation Center, the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Kari interned during her graduate studies at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, Germany; and Modern Art Conservation in New York, NY. She completed a post-graduate internship at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge University from 2015-2016 and has since returned to the National Gallery of Art as a Mellon Fellow in Paintings Conservation. This is Kari’s second year serving ECPN.

Emma Schmitt, Professional Education and Training Co-Officer
Emma Schmitt graduated from the College of Wooster in 2010 with a BA in Archaeology. She attended the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History at the University of Glasgow (2012-2014). During this time she interned at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford UK, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Glasgow Museums, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Upon returning to the US, she worked for Windsor Conservation and was The Andrew W Mellon Fellow in Textile Conservation at The Denver Art Museum (2015-2017). This is Emma’s second year serving ECPN.

Kat Fanning, Professional Education and Training Co-Officer
Kat is currently a Preservation Associate at the Center for Jewish History. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Chemistry from Southern Connecticut State University. In 2011, she was a pre-program intern in the Guggenheim’s Conservation Lab. Kat is in the process of completing her MSLIS with certification in Conservation and Digital Curation from Pratt Institute’s School of Information. She recently completed a Conservation and Digital Curation Fellowship in the library department of the American Museum of Natural History (2016/2017). She also volunteers in the New Jersey Room at the Jersey City Free Public Library. This will be Kat’s first year serving ECPN.

Jen Munch, Webinar Coordinator
Jen is a second year graduate fellow at Buffalo State College, focusing on the conservation of paintings. This past summer, Jen completed a summer paintings conservation internship at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Prior to graduate school, Jen gained conservation experience at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, the private practice Rika Smith-McNally and Associates and the Conservation & Maintenance Program of the Cambridge, MA Arts Council. Previously, Jen served as an ECPN Regional Liaison to Boston (2015-16).

Evelyn (Eve) Mayberger, Outreach Co-Officer
Eve holds a B.A. in Art History with a concentration in Asian Art from Wesleyan University (2010). In 2016, Eve graduated with a M.A. and M.S. degrees in art history and conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where she specialized in objects conservation. She has worked in the conservation departments of the Olin Library at Wesleyan University, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Historic Odessa Foundation, Small Collections Library at the University of Virginia, National Museum of the American Indian, Worcester Art Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (fourth-year internship). In addition to museum work, Eve has participated in excavations at Sardis (Turkey), Selinunte (Sicily), and Abydos (Egypt). Currently, Eve is the Mellon fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This is Eve’s second year serving ECPN.

Caitlin Richeson, Outreach Co-Officer
Caitlin holds a BFA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the Maryland Institute College of Art (2012). She is currently a graduate fellow in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, majoring in objects conservation with a minor in preventive conservation. She has completed internships or contracting work with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Navel History and Heritage Command’s Archaeology and Conservation Lab. This summer she will be in Potomac, Maryland interning with Glenstone. This is Caitlin’s first year serving as the Outreach Co-officer.

Alyssa Rina, Communications Co-Officer
Alyssa graduated with a B.F.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of Visual Arts (2013) and worked at Jim Kempner Fine Art in Chelsea before discovering art conservation and becoming a pre-program student. Since then, she has studied Chemistry, French, and additional studio courses in ceramics, mold making, three-dimensional printing, and book binding. Alyssa has completed pre-program jobs and internships at Linda Francavilla Paper Conservation, The Better Image, Cultural Preservation and Restoration, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Alyssa will begin two pre-program summer internships at The Historic Odessa Foundation and in the paintings lab at Winterthur. Alyssa is most interested in object conservation, but continues to seek opportunities that will diversify her experience across most conservation specialties. This is Alyssa’s second year serving ECPN.

James Riley Cruttenden, Communications Co-Officer
Riley is an MLitt candidate and a US-UK Fulbright Award recipient in the Technical Art History program at the University of Glasgow. Riley received a BFA in sculpture from the Ohio State University where he later returned for studies in chemistry and for a pre-program internship with the university’s Library Conservation Unit. He has contributed to research on mass spectrometry with Ohio State University’s Badu Research Group and recently researched historic molds and plaster casts in the Archives and Collections of the Glasgow School of Art. He is currently conducting a technical examination of four British-made, 19th century ship models at the Rijksmuseum and will begin a six-month pre-program conservation internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in the fall of 2017. Riley is especially interested in the conservation of objects and in analytic methods for cultural heritage research, and he looks forward to applying to graduate programs in conservation in the near future. This is Riley’s first year serving ECPN.

ECPN would like to congratulate Molly Gleeson, a former ECPN Chair, on her election to the AIC Board of Directors. In this role, Molly will serve as ECPN’s Board Liaison.

Molly Gleeson, AIC Board Director for Professional Education
Molly is the Schwartz Project Conservator at the Penn Museum. Since 2012 Molly has worked in the museum’s open conservation lab, which was recently renamed “The Artifact Lab: Conservation in Action.” In the Artifact Lab, she treats artifacts in full public view, interacts with museum visitors daily, blogs about the ongoing work in the lab, and regularly gives presentations about conservation. Prior to the Penn Museum, Molly worked on contract in Southern California and as a Research Associate on the UCLA and Getty Conservation Institute feather research project. She completed her M.A. in 2008 at the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. Molly is a Professional Associate member of AIC and is the current co-chair of the Archaeological Discussion Group (ADG). She previously served for 2 years as the Chair of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN).

Once again, we would like to thank those who have dedicated their time and efforts to working on ECPN projects this past term! In looking forward to the 2017-18 term, we hope that our ongoing projects and new initiatives will continue to provide valuable resources for pre-program candidates, graduate students, and emerging conservation professionals.

Preparing for the 45th Annual Meeting: ECPN’s Updated Tips for Conference Attendance

In anticipation of the 45th Annual Meeting in Chicago later this month, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network has updated our “Tips for Conference Attendance.”





















Access a PDF version of this Tips Sheet, which includes hyperlinks, by clicking here. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

2017-18 Open Officer Positions for Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN)

Are you an emerging conservation professional who wants to advocate for the issues that matter most to you and your peers? Do you want to help AIC develop resources and programs specifically for early-career conservators, conservation scientists, and collections care specialists? If so, please consider applying for one of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network’s (ECPN) open officer positions! ECPN is currently accepting applications from pre-program individuals, graduate students, and recent graduates for the following positions:

  • Vice Chair
  • Professional Education and Training Officer
  • Communications Officer
  • Outreach Officer

All positions will serve a two-year term beginning June 2017, just after AIC’s 45th Annual Meeting. The Vice Chair is expected serve a one-year term, transitioning to Chair for an additional one-year term.

To learn more about ECPN, please visit:

Questions and position description requests can be directed to Rebecca Gridley, ECPN Vice Chair, at To apply for an open officer position, please submit a brief statement of interest and your resume to Rebecca by April 14, 2016.

A Recap of IIC’s Point of the Matter Dialogue on Viral Images and Protest Art

On February 14th, conservators, archivists, curators, educators, artists, historians, and activists gathered in the Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the International Institute for Conservation’s (IIC) Point of the Matter Dialogue, “Viral Images: Exploring the historic and conservation challenges of objects created for social protest and solidarity.” When organizers began planning this event two years ago, they could not have predicted just how timely this Point of the Matter Dialogue would be, in light of increased social unrest resulting from recent political and global events. Appropriately, a pink knitted ‘Pussy Hat’ could be spotted in the audience — a symbol of protest and solidarity from the historic Women’s Marches held worldwide just three weeks earlier.

The program focused on creative and expressive imagery used for social protest. Fine art, photography, and graphic design are all subject to endless replication and adaptation, becoming “viral images” that spin outwards on social media and the news – carrying with them powerful messages and gathering new meanings. Viral images can function as symbols for a specific social cause or an entire movement, can themselves become flash-points for social action, or can serve as documents of historic moments. Ephemeral by nature, they can prove to have long-term influence. IIC’s Point of the Matter Dialogue aimed to address the challenges involved in archiving this form of cultural heritage.

The organizers posed a series of questions as a starting point for discussion:

  • What happens to the artwork when the protesters leave?
  • Was it ever intended to be collected or preserved?
  • Is there a precedent for archiving these ephemeral materials?
  • Who is collecting them?
  • How do we preserve the intent and impact of these creative works for posterity?

The event included short presentations by panelists and a Q&A, both of which were live-streamed online and can now be viewed here. Before recording began, the program kicked off with a sneak preview of “STREETWRITE,” a musical film written and directed by Blanche Baker about street art and freedom of expression. This was followed by a performance and presentations by Artists Fighting Fascism: Rebecca Goyette, Brian Andrew Whiteley, and Kenya (Robinson). Those watching the video of this program may be interested in learning more about these artists and their work, as they were active participants in the Q&A session and their projects were cited several times by panelists and audience members (specifically Goyette and Whiteley’s recent video collaboration, (Robinson)’s #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET project, and Whiteley’s Trump Tombstone piece).

The panel included six speakers, who represented various stakeholders and decision-makers in this discussion: those who produce, document, collect archive, preserve, and study protest art and viral images. Ralph Young, a Professor of History at Temple University, discussed the history of dissent in America, touching on themes covered in his recent book and courses on this subject. A historical context for the concept of “viral images” was provided by Aaron Bryant, Curator of Photography and Visual Culture at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bryant discussed his approach as a curator for a history museum to collecting images and objects that represent historic events, changing ideas, and social movements (including Black Lives Matter protests).

Michael Gould-Wartofsky, a sociologist and author, related his experience reporting on Occupy Wall Street in 2011, highlighting the key role of social media and viral images for broadcasting protesters’ messages, and the challenges in reconstructing this digital archive. A case study for the practice of archiving this form of cultural heritage was provided by Lidia Uziel, Western Languages Division Leader for the Harvard Library: shortly after the 2015 terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris, the university created an archive devoted to collecting and documenting the visual and textual materials produced in response to the event.  

Gregory Sholette, an artist, activist, and writer, discussed his personal involvement in the East Village art scene in the 1980s and the afterlives of artworks created for social movements as they are moved into the museum. In this vein, Christian Scheidemann, a conservator of contemporary art, presented examples of artworks created either as a form of protest or from protest materials and considered the decision-making process involved in exhibiting, preserving, and restoring these works.

After short presentations by the panelists, an hour was devoted to questions from the audience. The dialogue between the panelists and audience members moved beyond the prompts posed by the organizers, and included both practical and theoretical questions. The discussion touched on the life cycle of viral images and protest art, and the relationship of this ephemeral material to fine art. Participants considered the practical problem of how to determine what material to save in the aftermath of historic events when resources for its preservation are limited. Questions were also raised about the social and ethical responsibilities of conservators and archivists, our role in constructing and framing historical narratives, and the impact of our individual and innate biases. This in turn led to a frank conversation about the lack of diversity in the conservation field, a concern that has motivated the formation of the AIC Equity and Inclusion Working Group (NB: Readers may be interested in Sanchita Balachandran’s talk “Race, Diversity, and Politics in Conservation: Our 21st Century Crisis,” presented at the 2016 AIC Annual Meeting). These questions pointed to a number of potential topics for future events in the Point of the Matter Dialogue series.

Thank you to IIC and the Point of the Matter Dialogue organizers for such a productive and thought-provoking program! To watch the full program, click here.

Panelists and organizers for the IIC Point of the Matter Dialogue on Viral Images. (Photograph courtesy of Sharra Grow)
Back row: Christian Scheidemann, Michael Gould-Wartofsky, Aaron Bryant, Lidia Uziel, Ralph Young
Middle Row: Gregory Sholette, Blanche Baker, Rebecca Rushfield, Amber Kerr;
Front Row: Kenya (Robinson), Rebecca Goyette


Tips for Writing FAIC Grant Proposals: ECPN Interviews ETC


Recent recipients of the George Stout Memorial Fund Scholarship, a grant administered by FAIC that provides funding for emerging conservators to attend AIC’s Annual Meeting.



Between 2011 and 2015, the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) awarded $2,064,962 through 462 grants and scholarships. $428,601 of this was given out in 2015 to 91 grant and scholarship recipients. While these numbers include larger grants such as Samuel H. Kress Conservation Fellowships and publication grants, an important part of FAIC’s grant program is to provide professional development support for individuals to attend conferences and workshops and to pursue research projects. A full list of grants and scholarships is available here.

Emerging conservators are eligible for a number of these grants, including the FAIC / Tru Vue® International Professional Development Scholarships and George Stout Memorial Fund Scholarships  – the latter of which is reserved for pre-program individuals, graduate students, and recent graduates to attend professional conferences. Each grant has specific deadlines, eligibility, and application requirements – all of which are listed online. FAIC recently moved the grant application process online to make the process easier for the applicants and the reviewers.

This brings us to the subject of this post: how to improve your applications for FAIC grants! Reviewing and awarding these grants is an important but time-consuming task, so FAIC relies on AIC’s Education & Training Committee (ETC) for assistance. Conservators from different career stages and specialties volunteer to serve on ETC, which is responsible for advancing AIC members’ knowledge of conservation practices by supporting continuing education and professional development endeavors. ETC also promotes educational issues within the field.

As many emerging conservators may be new to writing grant applications, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) interviewed some members of ETC to ask a few questions about the application and review process. Here’s what we learned:


ECPN’s Interview with ETC

  1. Review Process: What happens with an application once it is submitted? Who reviews it, and who makes the final decision?

For each application cycle, the Institutional Advancement Director for FAIC calls for volunteers from ETC to review applications, specifying the deadline and how many volunteers are needed. The reviewers are usually different people based on who can commit time to the process during the application review period. Three reviewers are assigned to read each application, and reviews are conducted anonymously. The reviewers receive instructions and reminders for the unique criteria for each grant.

Taking into consideration the specific grant criteria and the benefit of the project to the applicant (among other things), the reviewer assigns points for each of the selection criteria categories and provides comments to help clarify the ratings provided. ETC members’ ratings and review of the applications ensures a thorough and fair review process.

Next, the AIC Board Director for Professional Education works closely with the Institutional Advancement Director to tally the scores and review comments by ETC and submits the recommended awards for final approval by the Executive Director of FAIC and AIC and the FAIC Treasurer. The goal is always to administer as many awards as the budget allows to support the professional growth of AIC members.

  1. Audience: Who should the application be directed to? That is, who are you writing for (e.g. general audience, fellow conservators)?

Direct the application to your fellow conservators. ETC is made up of your peers — but it is important to keep in mind that ETC members come from a range of specialties. The reviewer may not know the significance of a particular project unless it is clearly defined and expressed. It is important to give details that explain the “why” —that is, why your project is relevant, timely, or important — so the reviewer can understand your thought process.

Because our field is small, there is a good chance that reviewers know some of the applicants. ETC members must also recuse themselves from a particular review if there is any conflict of interest (e.g., that member applied for a grant, or wrote a letter of support for an applicant).

ETC considers the applications based on the merit of a particular application, not with regard to whether you are a junior or well-seasoned conservator, or whether the reviewer is familiar with your work.

  1. Content: What are the major points in the application text to pay attention to? What level of detail is desirable when discussing your project?

Address the grant review criteria directly and pay attention to the parts that are unique to you and your application. Set up the relevance of the project first by describing it; the project description should be brief and straightforward. Then discuss how the project benefits you professionally. This is section with the most freedom: explain how the project is appropriate to furthering your professional development. It is more important to state effectively how you will benefit from your involvement–this is the part that really distinguishes the applications from each other.

So instead of listing your accomplishments, explain what you will accomplish — either by attending the conference, presenting your work, or pursuing your research. And be clear about your level of participation and whether you are attending a workshop or conference, or presenting. While your financial need is implied—you are applying for a grant, after all—you should still mention it. It is helpful for your case if the reviewer knows that your institution does not provide professional development funding, or has not provided it for a number of years.

Describing how you plan to disseminate what you’ve gained from the project is also an important factor. This doesn’t have to mean that you’ll write a book on the subject, but FAIC is interested in the most bang for the buck: how far will the benefits go if this person is selected for funding?

  1. Budget: What are the important considerations when reviewing a proposed budget? What costs should and should not be included? What is the best way to explain how you arrived at your cost estimates? What should you do if your estimated costs exceed the amount that can be awarded?

The budget needs to be complete and reasonable. Being stingy with yourself will not necessarily score you points, but you should not price out a luxury hotel and first-class flights. The Federal Government Service Administration (GSA) provides numbers that can be a great guide for drafting a budget. The online application form prompts you to consider expenses related mostly to travel and lodging, and additional explanation of expenses beyond this form is usually not necessary. While the grants don’t cover food, there is a place to fill out your estimated meal costs to show what you will be covering yourself.

Do not request for more than the maximum award; it may appear as though you didn’t read the grant description. If your projected costs exceed the maximum award, fully outline those costs and request up to the award limit. Outlining all of your costs—regardless of whether they are covered by the grant or exceed the award limit—provides valuable data for FAIC. This information can be used if grants are ever re-evaluated, and FAIC can use the budget information to advocate for higher award limits.

Having an expensive project doesn’t put you at a disadvantage. In fact, it engenders sympathy and understanding that you will have to seek additional funding or otherwise provide funds out of pocket. The better the reviewers understand the total costs, the better the committee can try to support you. The number of grants given out each cycle varies, and the goal is to provide enough support to allow the awardees to fulfill their projects.

  1. Recommendation Letters: How should you select recommenders? How can you help prepare them to know what points to speak to? Do your recommenders have to be AIC members? Should they have status within AIC (PA, Fellow)?

The letters should come from someone with whom you have a professional relationship, and who will write a positive recommendation that specifically discusses how the project will benefit you. If you are unsure whether a recommender’s letter will be positive, you can ask them or ask someone else to write for you. The perceived status of your recommender is not so significant; someone who seems important in AIC does not necessarily write a better letter. The requirements for recommenders’ status within AIC vary from grant to grant, so be sure to read the application procedures section very carefully.

Providing a recommender with your current CV and a draft of your application can help them to tailor the recommendation letter to your application. Also, let your recommenders know they can fill out the Letter of Support Form [insert link] provided by FAIC, rather than writing a traditional letter. All of these materials can be submitted electronically by the recommender, so the recommendation remains confidential. The deadlines are firm, so make sure to ask for recommendations well in advance and indicate the application deadlines in your request.

For more on this topic, look at the guides ETC has developed for requesting and writing letters of recommendation.

  1. General: Are there any easily fixable but common mistakes you see in applications? If your application is not accepted, what steps can you take to improve your chances next time? What are some general tips you would provide to first time grant applicants?

Do not overthink it. Your essay need not be lengthy; completeness and accuracy are what counts, so answer the questions and speak to the grant criteria directly. Be concise in making your case, and keep in mind that reviewers may read dozens of applications at a time.

Almost all of the projects and applicants seem worthy in each cycle, so it may come down to minor errors or omissions that result in an incomplete application. It does not reflect poorly on you for future applications if you not receive funding for your first application, so please don’t get discouraged.

For some common reasons why applications do not receive funding, see the great list below, provided to ECPN by Eric Pourchot, Institutional Advancement Director for FAIC.


Some Final Thoughts

In 2015, about half of FAIC grant and scholarship applications were funded, and the total funding awarded was 34% of the total amount requested. And—as we mentioned in our last post on the structure of FAIC and AIC—FAIC must raise the funds to support these grants and scholarships. A good portion of this comes from the Specialty Groups, AIC members, and individual donors! In 2015, $49,000 was raised through individual donations to support FAIC grants and other programs. So, if you are ever the recipient of one of these scholarships and grants, in the future consider “paying it forward” if you can by making a donation to FAIC!

We’d like to thank Nina Owczarek and Susan Russick from ETC and Eric Pourchot (Institutional Advancement Director for FAIC) for answering our questions, and Stephanie Lussier (AIC Board Director, Professional Education) and Heather Galloway (Chair, ETC) for their help reviewing this post.

If you have further questions about applying for grants, you can email:


— Jessica Walthew (Education & Training Officer) and Rebecca Gridley (Vice Chair) on behalf of ECPN


Bonus Tips!

ECPN asked Eric Pourchot, Institutional Advancement Director for FAIC, for some common reasons applications are not funded. Keep these in mind when drafting your application!

  1. The proposal did not meet the eligibility requirements or did not address the purpose of the grant or scholarship. For example, a professional development proposal might address the institution’s need for the proposed training, but not the benefit for the individual, which is the purpose of the grant. Read the guidelines carefully and think like a reviewer as you write the proposal.
  2. The proposal is incomplete. Be sure to double-check attachments, any required letters of support, etc.
  3. The project’s cost is out of proportion to the scale of the grant or scholarship. For example, a proposal might show $20,000-$30,000 in expenses, with no firm source of funding.  If the grant limit is $1,000, reviewers may ask how likely it is that the project will be completed.
  4. The proposal has errors or inconsistencies. These sometimes can be overlooked, but when competition is stiff, a proposal that doesn’t appear to be well thought-out will often be rated lower than more polished proposals.
  5. The budget is inflated, has errors, or isn’t justified. This is not always a fatal flaw, but often puts a proposal at a disadvantage.  If airfare or hotel prices are listed as much higher than what can be found online, for example, reviewers may question the overall proposal.  Conversely (but more rarely), a budget that doesn’t appear to reflect the real costs of a project may be seen as not feasible.  If there is a factor that distorts the budget, that should be indicated and justified in the narrative.  For example, scheduling might not allow the applicant to travel over a weekend, raising the cost of a round trip flight, or the applicant may be staying with friends and not require a hotel.

Recent recipients of the George Stout grant presenting at AIC’s Annual Meeting.

ECPN Blogpost Series: Getting to Know AIC and FAIC

Have you ever wondered where AIC (the association) and FAIC (the foundation) overlap, and where they diverge? Or who works for AIC and FAIC, and how they got involved?

This blogpost series takes a closer look at the structure and mission of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and the Foundation for AIC (FAIC) to introduce newcomers to the field —or even those who are not so new— to what AIC is and what it does. To get a more personalized and in-depth view, ECPN interviewed staff and board members for AIC and FAIC. In our follow-up blogposts, you will hear directly from those involved about these organizations and the work they do. But first…  let’s get back to basics!

First and foremost, AIC is a membership organization for conservation professionals. To this end, the AIC staff works to support AIC members, and the AIC board serves to support the members and address their concerns. AIC members themselves make up much of the organization’s structure: members are elected to serve on the AIC board and in specialty group leadership, or are appointed to committees and networks (such as ECPN). These different groups work together to support the field of conservation through their combined action. Which brings us to AIC’s mission statement:

“The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) is the national membership organization supporting conservation professionals in preserving cultural heritage by establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public.”

This is a tall order. How does AIC accomplish this? The AIC staff recently revamped portions of the website to detail the initiatives that fulfill each component of this mission. Some of these initiatives –such as organizing the Annual Meeting and managing communication between members (your specialty group listservs)–  are probably already familiar to you. We’ll learn more about these important programs and projects in forthcoming posts in this series.

The Foundation for AIC also supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities, but is separate from AIC. As Eryl Wentworth, Executive Director for both organizations, explains: “AIC and FAIC have a symbiotic relationship. They are separate legal entities with different missions, working both in tandem and independently to advance the field.” FAIC’s goals of advancing the profession, providing information resources, strengthening the professional education program, and expanding outreach, all benefit AIC members in critical ways.

There are important distinctions between AIC and FAIC in how they are funded, classified, and organized. AIC is a 501(c)6 nonprofit, and your AIC membership dues support the resources and staff devoted to AIC initiatives, such as the Annual Meeting, online tools and resources, and publications to disseminate conservation research (AIC News and the Journal of AIC (JAIC)). The Foundation (FAIC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and in contrast, is responsible for raising funds to support its own management and initiatives. Funds raised from grants and individual donations (including from AIC members) support the programs administered by FAIC, which include Connecting to Collections Care (C2CC), Angels projects, the Collections Assessment for Preservation program (CAP), and the Oral History Project, to name only a few.

AIC and the FAIC are each managed by a board of directors. The AIC board is made up of conservation professionals nominated by the Nominating Committee and elected by the broader AIC membership. There are four administrative leadership positions (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) and four additional board directors that oversee different aspects of the organization, such as Professional Education, Communications, Specialty Groups, and Committees and Networks. These positions are all voluntary, and AIC relies heavily on its members to participate in the leadership of the organization. The FAIC Board includes leadership from the AIC Board (including the Executive Director of AIC and FAIC), plus professionals in allied fields and in such areas as marketing, publishing, insurance, and law. These board members provide additional voices that help to broaden the reach of the organization in related areas of arts and culture, as well as expertise we otherwise lack.

Both organizations are based in a Washington D.C. office staffed by 13 professionals in nonprofit management. Some of the staff work for both organizations, while others’ responsibilities are directly tied to either AIC or FAIC. The AIC/FAIC staff are deeply invested in helping our profession grow and to educating the public about what we do. You may have met some of the AIC staff at the Annual Meeting, or have been in touch with them to update your membership information. Their work extends beyond this, and includes crucial advocacy for the field in the broader context.

Stay tuned for our next posts, which will offer further insight into these organizations and the people who keep them running!

Thanks AIC and FAIC!


— Jessica Walthew (Education & Training Officer) and Rebecca Gridley (Vice Chair) on behalf of ECPN

CCN Seeking New Social Media Chair – Applications Due February 15th!

CCN Seeking New Social Media Chair
Attention, Emerging Conservation Professionals! The Collections Care Network (CCN) is currently seeking a new Social Media Chair. This position would be an excellent opportunity for an ECP to put his or her social media skills to good use, become more involved within our organization, and take professional service to the next level!
The Social Media Chair is a new Officer position approved by the AIC Board this Fall. The applicant for this position should have extensive knowledge of the audience, purpose, and general outcomes for various social media platforms. Work would include developing content strategies and workflow for feeding content to CCN social media sites that adhere to AIC social media policy, contributing and manage contributions from others to CCN social media sites, and communicating social media outcomes to fellow CCN Officers that might lead to potential CCN projects.
The applicant should have a strong interest in furthering preventive conservation and collection care and excellent writing and organizational skills. The CCN Officers meet once a month via conference call, as well as at the Annual Meeting in May.
To apply, please send a letter of interest and C.V. to Becky Fifield at by February 15. For further information or to discuss the position, you may call Becky at (617) 212-1468. CCN is an AIC board-appointed network. Leadership in a network is by application and selection with final approval by the AIC board. Every effort is made to ensure that the officers represent CCN’s intended demographic, wide geographic representation, and balanced representation from conservators and allied professionals.