CIPP events at the AIC 2012 Annual Meeting

Conservators In Private Practice (CIPP) has finalized the arrangements for the AIC 2012 annual meeting activities in Albuquerque. These events are open to all conference registrants and present opportunities for networking as well as chances to learn more about the advantages of CIPP whether you operate your own studio presently or work for an institution.

Conservators In Private Practice (CIPP) 2012 AIC Annual Meeting events

Albuquerque, NM, Tuesday, May 8th

CIPP Seminar: The Art of Using Outreach to Grow Your Business

1:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M

CIPP Members $50 – Non-Members $75 (Includes 1 year membership in CIPP)

CIPP Business Meeting “Levity and Brevity”

8:00 P.M to 10.00 P..M.

CIPP Members Free

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The AIC Committee on Sustainable Conservation Practice Seeks Member

The AIC Committee on Sustainable Conservation Practice
Seeks Member

Term: May 2012- May 2014

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 or publications.
• Guide related working groups.

Please submit a statement of purpose (1 page maximum length) and your resume by March 18, 2012 to Sarah Nunberg, committee Chair.

Sarah Nunberg
snunberg [at] aol [dot] com

Call for Sustainable Tips at AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting

AIC’s Committee for Sustainable Conservation Practices is putting out a call for tips to present at our lunch session Wednesday, May 9 at 4AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting. The 2-hour lunch session, Linking the Environment and Heritage Conservation: Presentations, Tips, and Discussions, will include 2 presentations from environmentalists, followed by a 1-hour tips session and a 20-minute panel discussion.

Conservators will have 10-minutes each to present tips on how they are incorporating more sustainable practices. Topics could include: treatment materials no longer in use due to their environmental impact and their replacements; reduction and reuse of materials; new approaches to loans; and cost savings realized from sustainable practices.  Other topics are also welcome for this tips session and it is hoped the session will have a diverse range of tips and practical advice.

To present a 10-minute tip, please submit a proposal to CSCP by December 20, 2011 to sustainability[at]

Sustainability Survey

The American Institute for Conservation Committee for Sustainable Conservation Practices (CSCP) has created a short survey to find out what sustainable practices are currently being undertaken. We hope to get a sense of what is occurring as well as to try to identify possible speakers and case studies. The survey will be only be open during the month of November, 2011.

In 2008 the Green Task Force sent out a survey to the AIC community concerning “Green Conservation Practices” The CSCP realizes that internationally changes are quickly happening, with new practices and energy savings being adapted daily. The results of this 2011 survey will be shared during a lunch session at the 2012 AIC meeting in Alburquerque and in a future article in the AIC Newsletter. We hope to sharing how conservators in institutions and in private practices are making sustainable choices will inspire each other to keep moving ahead with sustainability in our field.

Please take the time (less than ten minutes) to complete this survey.

Thank you,

The Committee for Sustainable Conservation Practices

Sarah Nunberg, Rose Cull, Betsy Haude, Robin O’Hern, Denise Stockman, Melanie Brussat, Mary Coughlin, Melissa Tedone, Patricia Silence, and Catherine Hawks

If you have any technical difficulties with the survey please contact Ryan Winfield at AIC.


AIC 2011 Angels Project

The 2011 AIC annual meeting Angels Project was at the American Philosophical Society.  I had never been to the society so I was interested to see the space.  The American Philosophical Society promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities, it was begun by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 and the archives contain a variety of different materials.  The Angels were split into groups of five people and they were each assigned a shelf to begin to dust and record.  The record summarized how  materials are currently being housed and will allow the conservator to make recommendations for a future  re-housing project.

One of the most interesting collection materials was a box of bamboo that had been inscribed with characters.  This is the writing of the Batak, a group of people who live in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.  The American Philosophical Society will be re-housing these bamboo pieces very soon as they are one of only a few repositories of the Batak language.

This is my second year to volunteer on the Angels project and I really enjoyed it.  It gives me the opportunity to see and help a collection in need, meet other conservators in other disciplines, and after a few days of talking and thinking I got a chance to apply myself to a project which was energizing.

*Image courtesy of Jason Church at

Reproductions for Hamilton Grange: What Legs do We Have to Stand On? by Rian Deurenberg-Wilkinson

Hamilton-Grange, the only home owned by Alexander Hamilton is a Federal Style country house.  The current restoration is returning the home to the time period of 1802-1804.  The firm Fallon & Wilkinson, LLC has been brought on to reproduce 28 pieces of federal furniture.  The contract was also for the conservation of five of the original chairs in a suite of Louis XVI furniture.  The proposal was written based on photographs of what the reproductions would look like.  The reproduction contract included site visits to prominent collections of furniture, specifically those made by cabinetmaker Adam Hains and upholsterer George Bertault.  Upon closer examination of other furniture made by these makers, the Louis XVI furniture appeared inconsistent with the other furniture and upholstry by the same makers.  After consultations with the curator changes were made to the original proposal to better match the original furniture and the reproductions.

At the end of the talk the speaker mentioned that since the scholarship relied on more than photographs these are considered true reproductions and not re-interpretations.  I thought that was a good point and got across the incredible amount of research involved in making a true reproduction.

Ethical Considerations in Reproducing Furniture for Historic House Museums

David Bayne presented this paper on his experiences making reproduction furniture for display in historic house museums.  The rationale behind the reproduction of furniture is always to give a sense of wholeness to an interior, and in many cases there is sufficient evidence of what the furniture was like in the room to easily have the reproductions made.

However, in some cases the evidence is more difficult to find, for example the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House where the original furnishings were not well-documented.  It is very important to the interpretation of the space, but there will be some guesswork in the execution of these reproductions and the David Bayne was grappling with his role in this negotiation as the conservator.

This lecture reminded me of the the lecture about the ‘Frankenstein syndrome’ by Salvador Munoz-Vinas during the general session.  There are hard decisions we make as conservators and sometimes we just hope that our personal moral compass will guide us down the right path.  I admire David Bayne for his honesty about his personal struggles in the use of reproduction furniture in historic interiors.

AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Changing Attitudes Towards Musical Instrument Conservation in Russia

Laurence Libin gave an overview of his impressions of the current state of musical instrument conservation in Russia. He visited St. Petersburg numerous times in the past 15-years and his interactions with museum staff and his knowledge of the history of the region have allowed him to come to some conclusions about musical instrument conservation in Russia.

Musical instruments are made to function and create music, and he sets this function as a rationale for the continued use of the instruments which may lead to their destruction.

He also cites the philosophical doctrine of fatalism, applied to musical instruments, means that the instruments, like people, are resigned to their fate and conservation is a lost cause. There is very little funding in Russian museums and many museum staff hold second or third jobs to make ends meet.

Even with these setbacks, there is a growing interest in musical instrument conservation in Russia and there is respect amongst museum professionals at the craft of the conservator. The ICOM International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections is helpful at creating appreciation and standards for collections. The speaker was generally positive about the future of musical instrument conservation in Russia.