41st Annual Meeting-Tours, May 29, "Indiana Historical Society"

A slight communications glitch caused the group from the Indiana State Museum Tour to start without the group that was only doing the Indiana Historical Society tour; we knew that they were supposed to rendesvous with us, but they didn’t know that we existed.
We finally caught up with the other half of our tour group in the Isolation Area of the Indiana Historical Society building, where Paper Conservator Ramona Duncan-Huse was explaining how they set aside a purpose-built space to quarantine, inspect, and treat incoming collections. Because the Historical Society actively acquires entire pallets of archive boxes, staff cannot examine every single item as it enters the collection. This holding room gives the Conservation Department the opportunity to detect insect evidence or mold and prevent cross-contamination with other collections. The room was the envy of many on the tour who could only dream about a room with such great features: negative pressure, floor drains, industrial freezers, etc. The Historical Society’s mold treatment room was a smaller room contained within the Isolation Area that had polyethylene sheeting over its entrance, easily-cleaned tile walls, and its own negative pressure air handler, designed to prevent the outflow of airborne particles through doorways.
After being “wowed” by both the size and quality of the contaminated holding area, the tour moved on to the conservation exhibit.  The “History Lab” is a delightful, interactive, kid-friendly installation in a second-floor gallery adjacent to the conservation lab. The exhibits’ objective is to explain what conservation is and what conservators do. The exhibit has been popular with audiences and funders, so the Conservation Department will be undertaking a renovation and expansion of the exhibit and the Conservation Lab. Facilitator Nancy Thomas oversees the hands-on paper mending practice area in the current exhibit. There are also computer-based interactive exercises.
Romona Duncan-Huse turned over the next part of the tour to Sarah Anderson, the designer who is helping to transform the History Lab in its next phase, scheduled to open in September. She showed storyboards for the new exhibit and explained its objectives. The current exhibit is very popular with school groups and families, but some visitors see it as a children’s exhibit and walk right past it. There will be “before and after” objects, and lots of touchable materials, as well as touchscreen computer-based items. Duncan-Huse maintains a conservation Pinterest page, so they plan to incorporate that into the new exhibit. The new exhibit will explore more of the “why” and “how” of conservation treatment decisions, and it will be a lighter, more open design (think Brookstone or Sharper Image meets Apple Store meets Williams-Sonoma); it still incorporates hands-on interactive activities, but with a more sophisticated feel than the old exhibit.
With the new gallery construction slated to begin in June, the impending removal of some walls of the conservation lab meant  that there were no treatments in progress during our visit. Conservation staff were happy to describe some of their recent activities to us.  Tamara Hemerlein, the Local History Services Officer, explained the IMLS Statewide Connecting the Collections (C2C) project, which includes a traveling conservation panel exhibit, “Endangered Heritage.” The project also includes training for volunteers and museum boards around the state, and she has done 85 site visits to collecting institutions.  In late August, they plan to release Deterioria and the Agents of Destruction, a conservation graphic novel. They let us see advance proofs, and it is AWESOME! Several members of the tour (including me) were involved with C2C, so we were all jealous. I asked if they had plans for conservator action figures.
After the lab tour, we had the opportunity to visit the galleries on our own. I went back to the conservation exhibit to get a closer look and to take a few pictures. I want to thank Ramona Duncan-Huse and everyone at the Indiana Historical Society for such an interesting tour.

41st Annual Meeting – Paintings Session, Friday May 31, "Panel Discussion: Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation" by Levenson, Phenix, Hill Stoner, Proctor

I’m am extremely excited that I signed up to write a blog post for this Paintings Group Session at the  41st Annual Meeting for AIC: The Contemporary in Conservation this week in Indianapolis. As an emerging conservator specializing in the conservation of paintings, I found this discussion very important for our field and I was so pleased that Matthew Cushman gathered this renowned group of  conservators together for the discussion. The discussion (Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation) was well attended and the four presentations provoked important questions and topics for group discussion. This post isn’t intended for solely paintings conservators, but for all fine art conservators, restorers, and any people looking to find out more about the preservation and future of fine art.

Photo of discussion panel for Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation. (second from the left: Joyce, Hill Stoner, Rustin Levenson, Robert Proctor, and Alan Phenix).
Photo of discussion panel for Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation (from left: Tiarna Doherty, Joyce Hill Stoner, Rustin Levenson, Rob Proctor, and Alan Phenix).

Fair warning: this post is going to be a long one. I found so much relevant and notable topics were mentioned and I think they all deserve to brought up. This post is a little less personal opinion and a little more regurgitation of the facts – which is great for anyone who was not able to attend the discussion. The discussion panel consisted of mediator Tiarna Doherty from the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian Art Museum, and panelists: Rustin Levenson private conservator and owner of Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates; Alan Phenix conservation scientist from the Getty Conservation Institute; Joyce Hill Stoner educator in paintings conservation at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation; and Rob Proctor Co-Director and private conservator at Whitten & Proctor Fine Art Conservation.
Tiarna started the discussion with an introduction to each panelist, which was followed by a 10 minute slide-show presentation by each panelist discussing key points and topics each thought related to current trends and upcoming challenges in paintings conservation. This format acted as a starting point for the group discussion which followed. All the panelists came from different backgrounds which consisted of private, educational, institutional, and scientific positions,  so different perspectives for the field of paintings conservation could be properly represented.
Continue reading “41st Annual Meeting – Paintings Session, Friday May 31, "Panel Discussion: Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation" by Levenson, Phenix, Hill Stoner, Proctor”

Survey on teaching conservation in allied academic degree programs

For AIC’s 2013 annual meeting, Emily Williams and I developed a discussion session to examine conservation education in allied degree programs. Our overall goal for the session is to begin a dialogue about the goals and methodology of teaching conservation information and concepts to non-conservation students.
In order to provide a foundation for understanding and examining current trends in conservation pedagogy at the university level, we conducted an online survey, titled Teaching Conservation in Allied Degree Programs, prior to the session.
The survey was created using Qualtrics ( www.Qualtrics.com ) and was active for 2.5 weeks. It was distributed by link to a variety of listservs including all AIC specialty group lists, the Conservation-Research list and multiple ICOM-CC lists.  A total of 154 respondents began the survey and 111 completed it. 1 complete response was discarded because it was not appropriate (the respondent did not teach in higher education), and 8 nearly complete responses were retained. This resulted in a total of 118 responses for analysis. Several of these were re-coded to correct obvious errors (for example, when a respondent chose “other” but wrote in a response that matched one of the possible choices).
A public version of the initial survey report can be accessed here: Allied Education Survey Report – Public.  All information that might compromise respondent anonymity was removed from the public version of the report.
Many thanks to all those who took the survey! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to explore conservation education with you. We’re especially grateful to the following colleagues for testing and editing multiple versions of the survey: Cathleen Baker, Sanchita Balachandran, Holly Cusack-McVeigh, Heather Galloway, Richard McCoy, and Renée Stein.

Preservation Week April 21-27, 2013

Preservation Week is coming soon—April 21-27! How can your institution or those institutions you work with promote Preservation Week? Propose a project that can be publicized and help make it happen. Need ideas? Start with these and suggest others:
• A public lecture on a preservation topic
• A behind-the-scenes preservation tour for school groups, special donors, or the board of trustees
• A condition survey of a particular collection with a summary provided for visitors (why this is an important step in preservation)
• A preservation quiz to give to visitors (with answers, of course!)
• Print outs to leave in galleries about the conservation of a particular piece on view
• Offering Guides for Taking Care of Your Personal Heritage to visitors (www.conservation-us.org/treasures)
Be a part of Preservation Week and be sure to spread the news!


Buffalo State College Art Conservation Department Changes Application Deadline

The Buffalo State College Art Conservation Department has changed its application for admission deadline to January 7, 2013. If you are interested in applying for admission or know of someone who may

be, please make a note of this change and visit artconservation.buffalostate.edu/apply for more information and updated application materials.

Meredeth Lavelle
Program Manager
Art Conservation Department
Buffalo State College

Graduate Programs in Art Conservation: New Students and Internship Placements

Queen’s University Art Conservation Program

New Students
Marie-Lou Beauchamp (Paper)
Emily Turgeon-Brunet (Paper)
Kelli Piotrowski (Paper)
Emily Ricketts (Artifacts)
Aimée Sims  (Artifacts)
Samantha Fisher (Artifacts)
Jessica LaFrance (Artifacts)
Stephanie Barnes (Paintings)
Laurence Gravel-Gagné (Paintings)
Aimee Turcotte (Paintings)
Melanie Cloutier (Paintings)

Evelyn Ayre, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham UK
Fiona Beckett, Anita Henry Paintings Conservator, Montreal, Quebec, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON, and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa ON
Elizabeth Boyce, UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver BC
Wendy Crawford, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, ON and Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, ON
Moya Dumville, New England Document Conservation Center, Andover, MA
Timothy Greening, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON
Sonia Kata, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON
Jennifer Morton, Fraser Spafford Ricci Art & Archival Conservation Inc., South Surrey BC
Sarah Mullin, The New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, NB and Tripolis Greece
Kelly O’Neill, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Katherine Potapova, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, ON
Ghazaleh Rabiei, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, ON
Jessica Regimbald, Centre Canadien d’ Architecture, Montreal, QC
Corine Soueid, Institute of Nautical Archeology, Bodrum, Turkey and  INSTAP Centre for East Crete, Pachia Ammos, Crete
Jeanne Beaudry Tardif, Bibliothèque et archives du Quebec, Montreal, QC
Dorcas Tong, City of Vancouver Archives, Vancouver, BC
Jayme Vallieres, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB
Daniela Vogel, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Montreal, Montreal QC
Anna Weiss, Caere Excavation, Caere, Italy and Agora Excavation, Athens, Greece
Brittany Webster, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC

Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

New Students
Amy Brost, BA in Art History, BA in Studio Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Interest: Photographs and Electronic/Digital/Time-based Media
Kathryn Brugioni, BA in Art History and Archaeology, Washington University in St. Louis; Interest: Paintings
Annika Finne, BA in Material Art History, Brown University; Interest: Modern and Contemporary Paintings
Saira Haqqi, BA in Russian Studies, Carleton College; Interest: Books
Evelyn Mayberger, BA in Art History, Wesleyan College; Interest: Books and Special Collections
Abigail Teller, BFA Painting, BA in Art History and Archaeology, BA in History, Washington University in St. Louis; Interest: Undecided with an emphasis on Modern and Contemporary

The 2012 – 2013 Leon Levy Visiting Fellow in the Conservation of Archaeological Materials:
Wei Liu, BS in Conservation Science, Northwest University in China; MS in History of Science and Technology, University of Science and Technology, Beijing

Morgan Adams, Thaw Conservation Center, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY
Kristin Bradley, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
Sophie Scully, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Cybele Tom, Bode-Museum, Berlin, Germany
Shauna Young, The Museum of Modern Art
, New York, NY

University of Delaware, Art Conservation Department

New Students
Shannon Brogdon-Grantham
Emily Brown
Austin Curley
Clara Curran,
Kelly McCauley
Ronel Namde
Nicholas Pedemonti
Michelle Sullivan
Kimi Taira,
Emily Wroczynski

The program’s third year students, their internship sites and majors are:
Bartosz Dajnowski – (The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Military University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland – Objects Conservation)
Greta Glaser – (Smithsonian Institution Archives and Library of Congress – Photograph Conservation)
Laura Hartman – (Mauritshuis and Yale University Art Gallery – Paintings Conservation)
Morgan Hayes – (Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Paintings Conservation)
Sara Lapham – (Philadelphia Museum of Art – Furniture Conservation)
Sara Levin – (Metropolitan Museum of Art – Objects Conservation)
Carrie McNeal – (Library of Congress – Library and Archive Materials Conservation)
Crista Pack – (Museums of New Mexico – Objects Conservation)
Emily Schuetz – (Philadelphia Museum of Art – Textile Conservation)
Elena Torok – (The British Museum and Yale University Art Gallery – Objects Conservation)

Buffalo State College, Program in Art Conservation

New Students
Zach Long
Jennifer Hunt Johnson
Erica Schuler
Jena Hisrschbein
Amanda Chau
Dawn Planas
Liz Sorokin
Ellen Davis
Colleen O’Shea
Christina Taylor

3rd Year Internships – Class of 2013
Genevieve Bieniosek – Biltmore
Ashleigh Ferguson (Schiezer) – The Huntington Library
James Gleason – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Ashley Jehle – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation)
Elizabeth LaDuc – The Walters Art Museum
Dawn Mankowski – Columbia University Libraries
Laura Neufeld – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Legion of Honor)
Fran Ritchie – Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University
Lianne Uesato – The Cleveland Museum of Art
Aisha Wahab – The University of Michigan Libraries

UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

Summer Internship placements for 1st year students
Dolph, Brittany – Museum of Volos, Greece and the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles
Fuentes, Ayesha – Shaanxi Archaeological Institute in Xi’an, China and Department of Archaeology in Sri Lanka
Griswold, Geneva – working on the Siqueiros Mural (through the Getty Conservation Institute), working in Varallo, Italy and at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, NY
Mahony, Caitlin – INSTAP, Crete, Greece
Mallinckrodt, Casey – Arizona State Museum
Neiman, Madeleine – Anchorage Museum, Alaska
North, Alexis – Tell Tayinat, Turkey and the Brooklyn Museum
Tzadik, Carinne – Benaki Museum, Athens

Placement of current 3rd year students
de Alarcon, Tessa – U of Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Doan, Lily – Los Angeles County Museum of Art as Andrew W. Mellon Fellow
Ledoux, Nicole – Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums
O’Hern, Robin – National Museum of the American Indian as Andrew W. Mellon Fellow
Scott, Cindy Lee – For the summer 2012, Cindy Lee will be teaching conservation to Archaeologists at Gournia in Greece

Our remaining students, Elizabeth Drolet and Dawn Lohnas, are awaiting outcomes for next years’ positions.

Educators Convene to Share Ideas on Teaching the Next Generation in Historic Preservation

This story came to the AIC office from Brian Clark at Roger Williams University. 

Tour of an historic building in Providence
Conference participants toured historic properties in Providence during the two-day event.

BRISTOL, R.I., Sept. 14, 2012 – How the next generation of historic preservationists is educated has profound implications across the preservation world, especially given that effective education means a greater likelihood of qualified professionals. But while the U.S. is home to an array of quality preservation programs at colleges and universities, there has been surprisingly little conversation among educators about how best to teach those who will comprise the preservation workforce in the future.

On Sept. 8 and 9, more than 75 educators from not just the U.S. – but from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and more – convened in Providence, R.I., to discuss best practices at a conference titled “Preservation Education: Sharing Best Practices and Finding Common Ground.” The conference was hosted by the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University with support from Clemson University, the College of Charleston, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

After two days of discussion and debate, a set of key ideas emerged. Jeremy C. Wells, assistant professor of historic preservation at Roger Williams and the conference chair, says the ideas focused on everything from embracing technology and encouraging innovation to linking the built and natural environments, integrating with other disciplines and building partnerships with K-12 education, real estate professionals and more.

Wells also noted that the attendees agreed that without a more concise definition of what the “discipline” of historic preservation is, there would continue to be difficulty in defining what students should be accountable for as far as skill sets and knowledge are concerned.

“We need better understanding and consensus around our view of the world,” he said. “There is even some discomfort with the term historic preservation itself. Does preservation imply stasis – that things never change? Would conservation more accurately represent our approach? We need to envision a future in which we build consensus on these questions, among preservation practitioners and educators alike.”

40th Annual Meeting, Wooden Artifacts Session, May 11 “Training the Next Generation of Furniture Conservators”, Mark Anderson, Steve Brown, MaryJo Lelyveld, Jonathon Thornton, Antoine Wilmering, Debbie Hess Norris, Moderator

This was a panel discussion moderated by Debbie Hess Norris on where the future of furniture conservation training lies. WAG Program Chair Stephanie Auffret began the discussion by describing the current situation, in which very few students are being trained in furniture conservation in the US currently. In preparation for the discussion, Stephanie sent a questionnaire to the panel participants, current educators in furniture conservation, and current practicing furniture conservators. The questionnaire asked about expectations of core competencies for recent graduates in furniture conservation, opportunities to develop these competencies, and where potential employment opportunities for recent graduates might lie. The questionnaire identified a broad range of core competencies which a recent graduate in furniture conservation ought to have, including knowledge of the history of furniture, a scientific understanding of wood and other materials used in furniture making, good hand skills, knowledge of preventive conservation and documentation, as well as a structural understanding of furniture.

The panelists then gave very brief presentations. Steve Brown, professor of furniture making at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA, described the furniture training program, which includes knowledge and handling of hand and power tools, and a progressive series of furniture making projects, including a tool chest, a chair, a table and a case piece. He showed typical examples of furniture made by NBSC students, and described the emphasis of the program on developing hand skills.

MayJo Lelyveld described the absence of furniture conservation training opportunities in Australia, and described how most conservators tasked with caring for furniture there have come from othher areas of specialization and have had to develop their skills on their own, or from non-conservators with knowledge of woodworking techniques. For treatments involving a high level of woodworking skill, they have to turn to these non-conservators to participate in the treatment.

Mark Anderson then briefly talked about the furniture major at WUDPAC, describing how few majors there have been in recent years. WUDPAC requires that its furniture majors demonstrate a certain level of competency in wood working, a requirement that does not exist for any of the other majors. WUDPAC has graduated very few furniture majors since this requirement was instituted, illustrating that it is very difficult to assemble all the prerequisites at a sufficiently high level of achievement to get in to Winterthur and also gain experience in cabinet making.

Ton Wilmering talked about some of the training programs in Europe, and that they exist at more varied academic levels, briefly discussing his own training.

Jonathon Thornton talked about the Buffalo program, indicating that they train furniture conservators their as well. He emphasized that good hand skills were important for ALL conservators, and that developing them in one area or another could come a little later in a conservator’s training.

Debbie then opened the discussion up to the floor, and my ability to take careful notes took a back seat to my interest in the conversation. The following is more my impressions of the conversation than a strict recounting. Tad Fallon pointed out that the first CAL class occupied many of the institutional positions that are still available, and that the institutional job opportunities haven’t been that great. Jonathon Thornton said it’s like the pig in the python (or something like that), a big bulge in the middle, but it’s skinny at both ends! Steve Brown said that a visitor to NBSS once commented that she wished she had a job which didn’t require any thinking, illustrating an attitude about furniture making which is all too prevalent (sometimes even among other conservators, and especially other museum professionals, in my opinion).

The discussion seemed to center more and more around whether and how much training in furniture making a furniture conservator needs. Jonathon Thornton pointed out that furniture conservators have a host of tools, techniques and materials available to them not typically used by the traditional furniture maker, including casting in polymers and digital reproductions, which conservators do and should use. Ton Wilmering related the discussion back to the wood panels of panel paintings. He described that many museums (and conservators) accept cracks in panel paintings when they would never accept tears in easel paintings. He thinks this is because the conservators responsible for the panel know they don’t have the wood working skills to repair the crack.

Mark Anderson again discussed Winterthur’s difficulty in finding students with the preparation necessary to get in to the program and the woodworking skills necessary to major in furniture, and suggested that students didn’t need to arrive at Winterthur with those skills, nor did they need to go to NBSS to get them. There was some discussion from the floor that areas of subspecialization (marquetry, carving, etc) are not usually perfected by even those students who DO have wood working skills before they get into school. Others pointed out that much of the work done by most furniture conservators involves surface treatment rather than structural work. I believe a largely unspoken, but underlying current in the discussion, was that there are not a large number of institutional jobs in furniture conservation in existence in the US right now. Mark did say that an institutional job was the ambition of most conservation program students. This may be part of the problem in recruiting students into furniture conservation, but the problem will only compound itself when current institutional furniture conservators retire and their institutions are unable to find people trained to replace them. The positions will be eliminated and there will be even fewer jobs available, and more furniture collections will be in the care of people without the training to undertake complex treatments.

Debbie wrapped up the discussion by suggesting that WAG needs to plan a way forward. She had a wide-ranging list of suggestions. Perhaps WUDPAC could send potential furniture majors to NBSS for the summer between their first and second year, as they are currently doing with some book and paper majors to the NBSS bookbinding program (an idea which occurred to me as well during the discussion). WAG might undertake demographic studies about where furniture conservation positions exist, and how close those in those positions are to retirement. The data collected could be used to help develop grant proposals to improve the professional development opportunities for various woodworking skills. She encouraged discussions between WAG and FAIC to work on developing more PD courses. She also suggested that WAG hold a roundtable discussion among furniture conservation educators, both US and international, to discuss current practices and how things might be developed, and how job opportunities might be increased. She offered that WUDPAC and Winterthur would be willing to host such a discussion. Debbie being Debbie, she left us all feeling hopeful for the future, with a renewed sense of purpose and willingness to roll up our sleeves and get cracking. Let’s hope we can build some momentum and accomplish some of the things on Debbie’s list of suggestions.

40th Annual Meeting, Wooden Artifacts Session, May 11 “Conservation Training at the Forbidden City”, Antoine Wilmering

Ton Wilmering, Senior Program Officer at the Getty Foundation, spoke about the the World Monument Fund’s new conservation training program it has developed at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China as part of its collaborative conservation program for the Qianlong Gardens in the Forbidden City. The gardens, a series of 27 pavillions and courtyards built by the Qianlong Emperor between 1771 and 1776 within the Forbidden City are an extraordinary example of Qian Dynasty decorative arts, and reflect the emperor’s broad cultural tastes and knowledge. I had the privilege of seeing the traveling exhibition of furniture and other objects from the Qianlong Gardens at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA in 2010, and the furniture and interiors on view were beautiful, exhibiting incredible craftsmanship.

The World Monument Fund is focused on funding projects with capacity-building components, and in conjunction with their conservation program in the Qianlong Gardens, in 2009 they established an new training program in the Forbidden City known as Conservation Resources for Architectural Interiors/Furniture and Training, or CRAFT. The program is designed to provide on-the-job training in both traditional craft practices and modern conservation techniques and science. Participants were selected from among current staff members of the Forbidden City complex, and include carpenters, collections care specialists, curators, architects and scientists. Current craft practitioners in China often have little knowledge of past techniques or history, and the program was designed to introduce them to craft history using historic Chinese cabinet making manuals. The program focuses on critical thinking as well as hand skills, and areas of study include scientific principles, history of conservation ethics, worker safety, drawing and drafting using both traditional and CAD techniques, materials technology, tool making, and joinery.

The program has made efforts to include Chinese faculty wherever possible, and Chinese wood species specialists and organic and inorganic chemists have taught in the program. The WMF found that many of the resources and people needed in the program were available in Beijing (in fact lots of conservation literature has been translated into Mandarin), but the WMF needed to make the connections with local libraries and scientists to bring them into the project. Other participants in the training program have included Susan Buck (cross-section analysis), and Chris McGlinchey (adhesives), and Behrooz Salimnejad (gilding) among others, as well as Ton, Rick Kershner and Greg Landrey, who the WMF brought in initially to design a space for the program and develop the curriculum.

Ton pointed out that the furniture on view in the traveling exhibition from the Qianlong Gardens which came to the US had not been worked on by participants in the CRAFT program. Instead, the Forbidden City bureaucracy had contracted out the restoration of that furniture, and it often involved practices that conflicted with modern conservation ethics. I was interested in the cultural differences exhibited by the Chinese participants. Ton told how the students all liked to work together on a project, showing a picture of four students sitting around a table, cleaning it with swabs together.

Ton also talked about the difficulties the program has experienced. Because the participants are employees working in the Forbidden City (remember, the program is on-the-job training), they are frequently called away to their regular jobs, which can be disruptive. Continuous supervision of the program by a trained conservator has also bee difficult. Many of the original participants have had to – or have chosen to – drop out, and currently about half the original class are still participating. Interestingly, it is the carpenters and architects who have stayed, not the collections care specialists.

After talking about the CRAFT program, Ton briefly discussed another initiative the Getty Foundation is involved in, to facilitate the transfer (and retention) of skills and knowledge in the structural conservation of panel paintings. Many of the most skilled practitioners in the conservation of these wooden panels are approaching retirement age, and the Getty Foundation has begun a 6 year initiative to set up apprenticeships with these practitioners for post-graduate, mid-career and senior conservators of wooden artifacts. The program is designed to have a broad geographic distribution, to include participants in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the US and UK, presumably.


Outreach Session on K-12 Education – next Thursday at 2:30!

We’ve lined up a great panel of conservators, two local teachers and the Director of Education at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to discuss how conservators can make an impact on K-12 audiences. As co-chairs of the AIC K-12 Working Group, we wanted to share a bit more with you about what we’ll be talking about and doing in this session than we were able to share in the conference program. We feel strongly that not only is it a lot of fun to work with elementary, middle and high school kids, but it gives us conservators a great chance to broaden their interests in art and in the sciences, and promotes value for our shared cultural heritage. What kid can’t tell you how acid rain is hurting the environment? Why shouldn’t they also be able to tell you what it’s doing to outdoor sculpture?

In this panel we’re going to focus mostly on the practical questions – what kinds of conservation-based topics translate well to these students? Who exactly is your audience and where will you encounter them – in your studio, in a gallery, in the classroom? How do you make inroads into your local schools, and find out who makes the decisions on what to teach? And how on earth do you fit this into your already busy work life? We’ll hear from conservators who have established tremendously successful programs, and hear directly from teachers and museum educators how they work – or would like to work – with conservators.

Then we’ll break up into focus groups, each one taking on a different age group (K-4, 5-8, and 9-12) and come up with some great ideas for topics, hands-on activities, and related explorations into other subject areas like history, social studies or math, so teachers can integrate these ideas across their school’s curriculum. These ideas will be further developed by the K-12 Working Group (and any interested volunteers, hint hint!) and be made available as lesson plans for conservators to take into their local schools, or for educators to use as springboards for working with conservators. The possibilities are wide open and we are excited to have a great and productive session. Please join us!

Details: Conservation and Education 1 Outreach Session, Thursday May 10th, 2:30-4, in Picuris/Santa Ana/Sandia