Call for topic-focused sessions and pre-sessions – AIC 2019

Greetings, colleagues! I hope your summers are off to a good start. We are now taking session proposals for AIC’s 2019 annual meeting. I know you get a lot of email, so in case you missed the call for proposals, all the info you need is below. Ruth and I hope to hear from you! We are both travelling this month, so if we don’t write you back immediately, don’t feel downhearted. We’ll be in touch as soon as we can.

2019 Meeting Theme

New tools, techniques, and tactics in conservation and collection care
Are conservation professionals innovators? We think so. From developing new approaches to conservation treatment and preventive care, to utilizing cutting-edge technological research, to examining how cultural heritage is defined and valued, conservation professionals are innovative, dynamic, forward-looking agents of change. And, how does collaboration with related fields and allied professionals influence the dynamics of the conservation – innovation process? We seek papers that explore all types of new work: practical, method-focused treatment projects; advances in collections care and management; discoveries in conservation science; and conservation initiatives that intentionally have a positive impact on communities.  In 2019, let’s come together to share new ideas for solving conservation and collections care problems large and small.

Call for sessions at the main meeting
Do you have an idea related to “New tools, techniques, and tactics in conservation and collection care” that would make a great, topic-centered concurrent general session? If so, please email AIC Vice President and General Session Program Chair Suzanne Davis at Include a tentative title, the program format, and a brief description of what subject(s) will be addressed; multi-disciplinary topics are encouraged. Members proposing sessions must be willing to serve on the General Session Program Committee. The deadline for submissions is June 28, 2018. For questions or to learn more, write Suzanne.

Call for Pre-session/Special event proposals
Do you have an idea for a pre-session event that is not exactly a workshop or tour? If so, please let us know! Just email AIC Meetings and Advocacy Director Ruth Seyler at with your thoughts on pre-session events. Calls for tours and workshops have gone out separately, but in case you missed those, please send them along to Ruth.

Abstract submissions should be no more than 500 words with an additional 300-word speaker biography and will be due on or before September 15, 2018. In mid-July, an email will be sent out with more detailed information including a link to AIC’s abstract submission portal.

For more info about the 2019 Meeting
View the results of our 2019 Annual Meeting Themes Survey to see how the theme was selected. For more information on the Greater New England location concept and the Mohegan Sun Resort, visit our 2019 Annual Meeting website.

Call for Papers – Cultural Heritage Management (and conservation!) Sessions – ASOR 2018

Hello Fellow Conservators,

My session co-chair, Glenn Corbett, and I are are seeking abstract submissions for the Cultural Heritage Management session(s) of the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting, which will be held in Denver, Colorado, November 14-17, 2018. This session welcomes papers concerning all aspects of archaeological conservation and heritage management in areas throughout the Near East. For the 2018 meeting, we are especially interested in presentations focusing on:

  • conservation and preservation activities
  • engagement and education of local communities (including topics involving site museums and visitors’ centers)
  • site management planning

Interested speakers should submit a title and abstract (max. 250 words) by February 15, 2018. Please see ASOR’s call for papers and instructions for submission here:

You may send inquiries or questions to Suzanne Davis ( and Glenn Corbett (  Please consider submitting! The ASOR annual meeting is primarily attended by archaeologists, and it is a wonderful venue for professional outreach about archaeological conservation.


It’s the time of the season…for submitting abstracts!

Yes, there is still time to submit that paper idea you’ve been kicking around in your head! You can do it (!!!), and this post aims to provide answers to your most pressing abstract questions, such as “How do I write a good one?” And, “What the heck happens after I submit it?”

For help with the first question, check out this blog post. It walks you through the process of writing an abstract and also helps you choose sessions for its submission.

As for the second, this document provides information on how the annual meeting’s review committees are formed, as well as the questions they consider when reviewing and selecting abstracts. You can also find this information on the AIC annual meeting’s Call for Submissions webpage.

I look forward to reading your talk abstract soon! And yes, I was listening to the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle album when I wrote this post.


Call for Papers – Cultural Heritage Management Sessions (ASOR 2017)

Session Chairs: Glenn Corbett, American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), and Suzanne Davis, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan

We are seeking abstract submissions for the Cultural Heritage Management session(s) of the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting, which will be held in Boston, MA, November 15-18, 2017. This session welcomes papers concerning archaeological conservation and heritage management in terms of methods, practices, and case studies in areas throughout the Near East. For the 2017 meeting, we are especially interested in presentations focusing on:

·         site conservation and preservation activities

·         site management planning

·         engagement and education of local communities

Interested speakers should submit a title and abstract (max. 250 words) by February 15, 2017. Please see ASOR’s call for papers and instructions for submission here: Note that professional membership ($130) and registration for the Annual Meeting (~$175) are required at the time of abstract submission. Student rates are discounted.

Please send inquiries or questions to Glenn Corbett ( and Suzanne Davis (

21st Century Salary Agenda

For all of us who care about salaries in conservation and museums, here is a great post on the Art Museum Teaching blog. I missed it in Feb. because I was working in the field with little internet access, but just read it in my review of the 700+ emails that accumulated while I was gone. It’s worth it, especially for the re-posted salary agenda from authors on the Leadership Matters blog.

Easy Yoga for Conservators

Here are three simple, quick yoga sequences, all from Yoga Journal, that are good for conservators. The first two sequences are nice for anyone who sits at a desk or a lab bench for long periods of time. If you have frequent neck pain or headaches, check these out. They were written by Ray Long, an orthopedic surgeon, and they help correct for upper and lower crossed syndrome. These syndromes occur when muscles shorten, tighten, and weaken as a result of sitting for long periods of time. You can read the full article about these muscle imbalances here, or you can go straight to illustrations of the issues and the slide shows of poses. Click here for upper crossed syndrome and here for lower.
The third sequence (click here) is good for anyone who stands for long periods of time, or who has lower back pain in general. I like this as an antidote to the pain caused by standing on my museum’s concrete floor for hours during exhibit installation. This sequence is written in ten minute increments, so that you can keep going and practice for up to 30 minutes if you like. Personally, I only ever do the first ten minutes.
You can do these sequences without a yoga mat, but make sure to practice in bare feet on a non-slippery surface. You will need a belt for the upper crossed and back pain sequences. You can use a yoga belt, a regular belt, or – if you don’t have any kind of belt at all – you can use a scarf or a towel. The upper crossed sequence also recommends lying on a bolster. If you don’t have a bolster, you can use anything that will allow your chest to open while still supporting your head: roll up a towel, a blanket, or try a sofa cushion (removed from the sofa).  For the lower-crossed sequence, a block is useful. If you don’t have a yoga block, you can improvise. When I’m traveling, I use my one-liter, Nalgene water bottle as a block; it’s the perfect height. If you are not super flexible, you might not need a block at all – your thigh might work fine.
Happy practicing!

Tips for Writing and Submitting Your AIC Abstract

It’s AIC abstract season! If you’re thinking about submitting for the 2016 meeting and are struggling with your abstract, here are a few unsolicited tips. These are based on reviewing a lot of abstracts in recent years, as I’ve served as a chair and co-chair for conference sessions at our annual meeting.
1) Structure the abstract in a logical way.

  • The first sentence should be a mini-abstract, an introductory statement that sums up the content of the paper. This paper will describe a newly-developed, sustainable protocol for mitigating vampire bat damage to the painted grottoes beneath Dracula’s castle. 
  • Continue with a brief description of the project, including its context and goals.
  • Finish by summarizing what your paper will cover, e.g. research results, two case studies, the protocol you developed, etc.

2) Write the abstract well.

  • Use active, descriptive language and clear syntax.
  • Edit and proofread! This important step is best done by others. I recommend two to three readers: someone who knows the project well (did you leave anything out?), someone who is not familiar with the project (does your abstract make sense?), and someone who is a good copy editor (are there errors of grammar, punctuation, or syntax?).
  • Finally, give your paper a good title. A cute title can be fun, but will work against you if it’s difficult to understand. Your title should give the reader (and potential audience members) a clear idea of what the paper contains. “A New Protocol for Mitigating Vampire Bat Damage” is better than “Vampire Bats Suck.” If you love your funny title, add clarity by following it with a colon and a clause that explains it.

3) Follow the instructions in the “Call for Papers.”

  • If the call identifies specific themes, explicitly demonstrate how your work relates to them.
  • Stick to the word limit.
  • Follow the submission instructions.

4) Choose your submission order carefully and submit on time. AIC allows authors to submit to three sessions, ranked in order of priority. If you authored the vampire bat paper, you might submit to the General Session, ASG, Collections Care, PSG, or Sustainability. You want to be strategic in your session choices.

  • Your first choice should be the group that will benefit the most from learning about your work. Even if this is a smaller or more specialized group, these are the people who need and want to hear your talk, and this is the session that will be most likely to accept the paper.
  • Only submit to the General Session first if your project truly fits that call for papers.
  • On-time submission gives you an advantage, because committees begin reading and building programs as soon as the deadline hits.

A few words about the review process: Submission strategy matters because abstracts are reviewed in order of the author’s session choices. If you select ASG as the first choice for presentation of your Dracula grottoes paper, the ASG program committee will read your abstract in the first round of review. If ASG rejects it in the first round, it will be sent to your second choice session for consideration. Your second choice session cannot consider it until the first one releases it.
The General Session receives the most abstracts by far. Consequently, review takes longer for this committee. If your abstract is submitted with the General Session as a first choice, be aware that it might not be released until after other session programs are already full. Although your abstract will be considered by each session committee in turn, the reality is that once a full complement of talks has been chosen for a session, it’s difficult to add and subtract papers. This is why I recommend the General Session as a first choice ONLY if your project truly fits that call for papers.
Good luck!

2015 Midwest Regional Conservation Guild (MRCG) Annual Meeting

When: October 2 – 4, 2015
Where: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, Michigan
For more information, visiting our annual meeting webpage:
The full conference program, including workshops and talk abstracts, is online here. This year’s varied presentations feature treatment, research, teaching, and collections care. Just a few of the exciting projects we’ll hear about: Diego Rivera cartoons, Samurai armor, and decorative DNA. We are delighted to feature the work of professionals at all career stages, and encourage you to join us in Ann Arbor to promote fellowship, service, and the exchange of ideas.
Contact info: Suzanne Davis, MRCG Secretary,

Your Conservation Career: Resources for Negotiating Your Next Salary

In November of 2014, I gave an ECPN Webinar titled “Beyond the Portfolio: Your Conservation Career” in which I briefly discussed salary negotiations (that webinar is here). Whether you’re just starting out or are further along in your career, here are two more resources to help you research and negotiate your next salary.
1) BUST magazine recently had a short but excellent feature on how to negotiate a salary for a new job. If you’re male, be aware that although BUST is aimed at women, most of the content is great for men, too. Including this article, which you can read here.
2) The 2014 AIC/FAIC Compensation Survey is online now, here! I LOVE these things! They are gigantic goldmines of data about our profession. But back to you – here is how to use this survey report for salary research. Start by having an overall look at how the report is organized, and then start to think about which sections and criteria apply to your situation. Page 69 gives an example of how to combine criteria to determine a salary.
Let’s use the survey for a pretend scenario: you are applying for a full-time job at a medium-sized, private museum in Washington, DC; you have a master’s degree in conservation and 3 years of post-graduate experience. What kind of salary offer should you expect?
To do this exercise, you’ll need to have the survey in front of you. Flip to page 70, Exhibit 3.17. We’ll move back and forth between columns a bit; because you’re a relatively new grad, you can expect your salary to be below the median in most categories. But I also don’t want you to aim too low, so we will stick mostly to the 25th percentile column* and not reference the 10th percentile data. Once you get the hang of this, though, you can figure out a range for yourself with points at the high, middle, and low end.
You can see that a salary in the 25th percentile for a medium-sized museum is 49K – write that down. It’s not part of a university, so the 25th percentile there is about 47K. Write that down, too. For a private museum, we’re at 46K. Keep writing these numbers down. You have less than 5 years of experience, but here let’s look higher – you’re really good, right? The 75th percentile for your level of experience is 47K. This would be a new position for you, so 35K. Look at the numbers for gender (yes – look again, my friends!). We’ll say you’re female. Write down 45K. Nope, that was too painful for me.  Erase 45K! Let’s assume instead that your work is worth the same as a man’s; write down 60K. You have a master’s degree in conservation, so write down 45K. Probably no one will be reporting to you, so write down 34K. Will you have input into the department’s budget? Probably not? Write down 34K. We’ll say you’ll be working under supervision, write down 34K. DC is in the “South Atlantic” as defined by the survey (which you know, because you paged through it and looked at how the report is organized), so write down 43K.
Based on this super basic research, you should be looking at a salary somewhere between 34 and 60K/year. Add together all the numbers you wrote down (I got 474) and divide by 10 to get the mean, which is 47. 47K/year would be a solid salary offer that you could feel good about.
Remember that you can calculate a salary range for yourself based on the different criteria and percentiles given in this table. Also remember the gender disparity; if you’re female and you feel a salary offer is too low, this survey provides solid statistics to which you can point.
Finally, you can use this survey for more than salaries; it gives good data on rates charged by private conservators, and you can also use it to evaluate benefits packages. In case you were wondering, I had nothing to do with this survey. I just really like it. Good luck!
* When you use this survey to find a salary range, make sure you use the data in a way that makes sense for your situation. This example is written for a recent graduate, which is why I suggest the 25th percentile in most places. If you’re mid-career, look at the 50th percentile. If you’re quite senior, look higher. There are also a few places where the survey data are sorted by level of experience. In these places, look at the midpoints that match your criteria.

42nd Annual Meeting – Joint Architecture and Objects Session, May 29, "The Cultural Production of Tourism at Lake Tahoe: Exploring How Cultural Heritage Preservation Is Impacted By Tourism," by Catherine Magee

This paper was a departure for a specialty group presentation in that it focused not on the conservation or technical study of material culture, but on the creation and consumption of cultural narratives and landscapes. Magee noted that conservation work informs and perpetuates stories about people, places, and things, and made the point that conservators are generally comfortable thinking about our work in the context of education, science, and academic scholarship. But she proposed the idea that we must also consider our role in the broader context of tourism, since the primary products of our work – conserved objects and sites – are most often intended for consumption by the general public, also known as tourists.
Her paper included a brief overview of tourism studies, examining the impact of tourism on different kinds of sustainability: economic, ecological, and cultural. The bulk of the paper was spent illustrating the latter point, looking at the ways tourism influences our perception of history and heritage by creating hybrid tourist/cultural heritage landscapes and influencing cultural memory.
Magee used two examples from her doctoral research, which focuses on the landscapes and material culture of the Washoe people in the Lake Tahoe area. The first example was Cave Rock, a pilgrimage site of major spiritual significance for the Washoe. The site was progressively destroyed by tourism, evolving from a culturally significant tourism site, to a pathway for a road, to a mecca for rock climbers. The second example focused on an iconic Washoe basket form, the degikup, and its most famous creator, Dat-So-La-lee. Magee examined the shared mythos of Dat-So-La-Lee and the degikup in detail, revealing the stories, and the basket form itself, to be products created for tourism.
The role of the conservator in shaping the destiny of a site like Cave Rock or the narrative surrounding iconic artifacts and artists like the degikup and Dat-So-La-Lee was not explicitly discussed. It’s not difficult, however, to imagine the complexity inherent in conservation decision-making for the kinds of tourist-hybridized sites, objects, and narratives explored in this paper. Magee argued that we conservators will discharge our responsibilities best if we develop a better awareness of our role in the cultural production of tourism. With that awareness, we can improve our agency in the process and generate better outcomes for sites, objects, and the communities we serve.