Make Sure IMLS Includes Conservation Priorities in their Five-Year Strategic Plan

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is working to create a five-year strategic plan, and would like ideas from museum and library professionals on how best to carry out its responsibility to support these institutions. Please take the time to share your ideas and help IMLS realize how important conservation is to the museum and library fields. Go to

Status of Preserve America and Federal Historic Preservation Funding

As of early August, 867 Preserve America Communities have been designated, 34 Preserve America Stewards recognized, 20 Presidential Awards bestowed, and more than $21 million awarded for 281 competitive grant projects throughout the country. While Preserve America Grants were not funded in FY 2011, and it appears unlikely that they will be funded for FY 2012, the First Lady continues to be engaged in the program with the formal designation of Preserve America Communities and Stewards.

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Interior and Environment Appropriations approved the FY 2012 Interior spending bill on July 7, 2011; it was approved by the full committee on July 12. The bill zeroed out funding for Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures grants (as proposed in the President’s budget) and also included a 9 percent cut ($5 million) to the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) from $54.5 million to $49.5 million ($42.5 for State Historic Preservation Offices [SHPOs] and $7 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices [THPOs]). The ACHP would receive $5.498 million for its operations (an 11 percent cut from the FY 2012 Administration request). All of these numbers reflect FY 2009 levels.
The proposed bill would provide overall funding for the Interior Department of $9.9 billion, $720 million below the agency’s current budget and $1.2 billion below the President’s FY 2012 request. This translates into the following:

  • A $129 million cut for the National Park Service (NPS) down to $2.5 billion.
  • National recreation and preservation programs, which include the National Register of Historic Places and National Heritage Areas, were funded at $49.363 million (a net reduction of about 15 percent from $57.87 million in FY 2011).
  • American Battlefield Protection Grants were funded at $2 million under NPS land acquisition, an increase of $640,000 from FY 2011.

Assuming that the full House of Representatives will vote to accept the bill as proposed, the focus will shift to the Senate and possibly a conference committee to reconcile differences and try to come up with an agreed budget.  Given the current political climate, it is quite possible that a final budget will not be in place until well after the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2011. A stop-gap measure may have to be negotiated.

An earlier “dear colleague” letter circulated by Reps. Michael Turner and Russ Carnahan as co-chairs of the House Historic Preservation Caucus had asked for support for the HPF totaling $50 million for SHPOs, $11 million for THPOs, and $9 million for fully competitive, non-earmark grant programs “like Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America.”

From the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Promote Conservation during A DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY on June 26

The increase in conservation project and archaeological excavation blogs has been a wonderful tool for promoting and informing the public and other professionals about our field.  Do you want to promote your involvement in an archaeological project, but don’t want to set up a blog?

A Day of Archaeology on July 26, 2011 is an excellent method for public outreach and promotes preservation within archaeology.  The goal of the project is to promote the various aspects of archaeology (including conservation) and to chronicle one day of activities.

For more information, see the website at Please consider submitting a short blog so we can enhance an understanding of what conservators do and how archaeological conservation contributes to a site.

AIC Advocacy – AIC Needs You

In today’s tough times, advocacy is more important than ever. AIC continues to partner with organizations such as the American Association of Museums and National Humanities Alliance to advocate for funding and recognition for conservation and preservation in the U.S. However, we cannot do it without you.

How can you help AIC advocate on your behalf?

  • Be part of our Emergency-Efforts Email Campaigns
  • Sign up for our Advocacy List
  • Engage in long-range advocacy efforts

AIC’s advocacy efforts have two tracks. One encompasses emergency efforts and other encompasses long-term efforts, and you can play an important role in both.

Emergency Efforts

These most often take the form of email blasts from AIC asking you to contact your members of Congress to encourage them to support or oppose a particular piece of legislation. AIC often gets very little notice in advance of legislation votes, so short emails sent to your members of Congress within 24 hours of receiving the AIC email are the most effective way to respond to these calls to action.

One important piece of information to remember is that members of Congress DO listen to their constituents, and these emails and phone calls do make a difference. However, timeliness is what is important, not a well crafted email or letter. Congressional staffers often just keep tallies of those calling or emailing in for or against a particular issue. The result of these tallies is often the only information passed on to the member of Congress.

So, when we ask you to take five minutes to cut and paste a message in an email and send it to your representatives, that is really all the time that is needed.

Some good examples of the important role individuals can play in the federal legislation process are the defeat of the two Coburn Amendments:

  • Early this year Sen. Coburn attempted to prohibit museums from competing for or receiving any funds from H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill. After a lobbying effort led by AAM in which AIC members were involved, the word “museum” was dropped from the final prohibition. Unfortunately, zoos and aquariums remained barred from competing for economic stimulus funding.
  • More recently, on September 16, 2009, an amendment sponsored by Senators Coburn/McCain – which would have prohibited ANY funding from the Transportation Appropriations bill from going to ANY museum – was defeated on the Senate floor after another AAM lead lobbying effect.

Interestingly, a recent amendment that would have targeted museum funding proposed by Senator Coburn did not make it out of committee, which illustrates that building an effective lobbying effort can extend beyond a particular bill or amendment. I can envision a time when members of Congress will be fully aware that they don’t want to “rile” those conservation people.

Sign up for our Advocacy List

Join our advocacy-efforts list. AIC is developing a list of members who would like to be contracted beyond emergency efforts to assist AIC in broader advocacy work for the arts and humanities. You would be sent additional email blasts when action was needed on Federal issues and to keep you informed of actions being taken that might affect the arts and humanities. Also, we might be able to expand our efforts and advocate for state issues if needed

You can join the list today by:

  • Login to the AIC website and click on Manage Your Profile and scroll down to Interests and select Advocacy Alerts
  • Email resyler at conservation-us dot org and ask to be added to the list.

Long-Term Advocacy Efforts
These following organizations offer occasional training sessions on how to be a good advocate.

If we want conservation to have a greater focus in arts advocacy, we need to be represented.  Take a few minutes to try to open up a dialog with the staff in your representative’s District Office.  You can set up an appointment to talk about what you do, invite them on a lab tour, or include them in museum events.

We at AIC are happy to help you gather materials and make your case. Contact me at rseyler_at_conservation-us_dot_org.

Thank you!
Ruth Seyler

Art Damage and Diminished Value

This post on the Emerald Art Services’ Blog gives discusses issues relating to damage and diminished value from an appraiser’s point of view. The post contains information useful to conservators on how phrases in treatment reports can be misinterpreted as well as a good non-technical introduction to the issue for owners.

Has anyone had useful experiences in dealing with the insurance industry or recovery companies that they would like to share?