The AIC Blog has moved!

The blog has move to AIC’s new Online Community. Any AIC member can post to the blog without prior approval. All you need to do is tag your post properly, so it shows up in the right feed. The community also features an AIC member-only forum and a resource library to give members easy access to a variety of publications and research. We hope to eventually bring most of our resources and online platforms together in one place to reduce your time spent searching across many online places for our supported content. Overtime, it will include smaller communities for each specialty group and network that will replace the older listservs hosted on CoOL. Each of these communities will alsobe able host their own resources, such as meeting minutes, videos, historical documents, best practices, and images.

Visit the new blog >

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.

The sustainability of museum energy use

“Until a decade ago, sustainability and museums were rarely spoken in the same sentence,” states architect Joyce S. Lee (FAIA, LEED Fellow) in her article Energy Star Score for Museums: You can manage what you measure.  The AIC Sustainability Committee formed ten years ago as the Green Task Force in order to provide resources regarding environmentally sustainable practices to the conservation community.  Early research topics included LED lighting refinements, revised temperature and relative humidity HVAC set standards, as well as discussions about the conservator’s role (as advocate for the collections) during capital building projects.  Collaboration with allied professionals, such as architects and engineers, has proven essential.  A new phase of assessment has begun with the Museum ENERGY STAR project, which seeks to identify energy use improvements from data provided by museums of all sizes, types, and geographic regions.  Read further on how your museum can take part. – AIC Sustainability Committee


The London Gels in Conservation Conference: Alina Moskalik-Detalle, “Conservation of murals by Eugene Delacroix at Saint Sulpice, Paris”

Gels In Conservation
Gels In Conservation

This blog post is part of a series of observations about the London “Gels in Conservation” conference co-hosted by the Tate and IAP (International Academic Projects, Ltd).  In mid-October, over the course of three days, some 41 authors presented research, techniques and ideas on gels in conservation.  The talks were excellent, and I’ve focused on four that were notable for the wide range of materials treated and challenges faced. They ranged from coating/grime removal from a giant sequoia tree cross section, to dirt and varnish removal from Delacroix wall paintings, to removal of repairs from a fragile felt hat from a 18th century ship wreck, and an experiment comparing residues left behind by various gels on paper.

2.Alina Moskalik-Detalle talking describing coating removal
2. Alina Moskalik-Detalle talking describing coating removal

In the second of four talks, Alina Moskalik-Detalle presented “Conservation of murals by Eugene Delacroix at Saint Sulpice, Paris.” The talk was interesting for its scale and challenges.  Because I’ve gone to see these murals many times over the years, the talk was also personally interesting. Each time I visited, I left somewhat disappointed by the darkened, flat, dull murals.  As luck would have it, I was scheduled to travel to Paris a week after attending the gels conference.  What I saw when I visited Ste. Sulpice was truly remarkable—color, depth, and drama.  The cleaning had totally transformed these murals.  Naturally, I couldn’t help myself, I actively looked for shiny patches—the results from this treatment were remarkable.  This multi-year project involved numerous conservators including collaboration with Richard Wolbers.  Some of the treatment challenges included flaking paint, complex paint layers, multiple restorations, rising damp in the walls, carbon based grime, and, if that wasn’t enough, the paint was very sensitive to organic solvents.  The conservators wanted to limit penetration of their solvent gels without leaving a residue or tide line behind. They wanted good contact between the gels and the substrate, control of the action of water, and to create mixtures of solvents that would clean effectively without damaging the paint layers.  After cleaning tests were performed, a treatment protocol emerged: by pre-saturation of the areas being treated with cyclomethicone followed by the application of silicone solvents gels to the mural’s surfaces,  tide lines were avoided, grime could be removed, the gels could be cleared, and residue was limited.  The D4 was a slow evaporator which allowed about a 30 minute working time for the application of the gel and subsequent grime removal without harming the paint layer.

during treatment, Delacroix mural detail
3. Delacroix mural detail, during treatment

The gels were made and applied in a paste-like consistency for maximum control of where the material was placed. It clung to the vertical walls and horizontal ceiling long enough to be effective.  Using D4 based emulsions to clean the mural’s paint surfaces allowed the removal of surface soil without stripping wax or oily components from the paint films themselves.  Because the emulsions were surfactant free, it was easier to clear them from the treated surfaces. Analysis of samples didn’t show residue left behind on the surface, but when the conservators tried to consolidate flaking areas of paint, they had trouble with adhesion, it is unclear why.  It will be interesting to see how these murals age over time and if further treatment is needed in future, how re-treatable it is.

St. Sulpice chapel after conservation treatment
4. Author pictured in Delacroix chapel after treatment was completed.

This blog series is a result of receiving the FAIC Carolyn Horton grant to help me attend the conference.   I would like to gratefully acknowledge the FAIC for helping make it possible for me to attend this important conference.

Northwestern/Art Institute of Chicago External Project Proposals

The Northwestern University-Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) is seeking external project proposals to advance the role of science within art history, curatorial scholarship, archaeology, and conservation. The goals of the collaborative program are to enrich the breadth, scope, and reach of scientific studies in the arts and in the wider field of conservation in the US and abroad, by leveraging resources at the Art Institute and materials-related departments at Northwestern University. The Center, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is the first of its kind to make its resources open to both internal and external users via merit-review proposals, within the framework of a double-pronged approach pursuing both objects-based and objects-inspired scientific research in the arts.

The deadline for external proposals is April 15, 2018.

To apply, please visit the website:

You may direct any questions to:

Sustainability Committee seeks new Professional Member

AIC Sustainability Committee Seeks New Professional Member

Term: June 2018 – May 2020

The Sustainability Committee seeks a new professional member to join our dynamic, interdisciplinary team. The position is open to anyone in the profession including interim year members, Associates, PAs, and Fellows from any conservation specialty.

Committee goals:  

  • Provide resources for AIC members and other caretakers of cultural heritage regarding sustainable approaches to all aspects of the 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.

Note: The SC is working to expand our focus to include economic and social sustainability, whereas in the past we have focused on environmental sustainability.

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.


  • Monthly telephone conference calls with the committee members.
  • Participate in researching and writing group presentations, publications, blog posts, and social media posts.
  • Research, write and edit the AIC Wiki Sustainability pages.
  • Contribute to development and planning for the Sustainability Session at the AIC Annual Meeting.
  • Initiate and support committee projects to increase awareness of sustainable practices in the conservation community.
  • Collaborate with related committees, networks, and working groups.

To Apply:

Please submit a statement of purpose (1 page maximum length) and resume by March 1, 2018 to Geneva Griswold, Committee Chair, at sustainability(at) with “Call For Members Application” in the subject line.

Historic Daniel Burnham House in Champaign, IL, to be demolished

In Champaign, IL, the very historic and majestic 1884 Burnham residence designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root is under imminent threat of demolition as the local School Board plans to demolish it within weeks to put up a parking lot.

As most of you likely know, Daniel Burnham is one of the most famous architects in the world. He largely developed the skyscraper and his great works include NYC’s iconic and much loved Flatiron Building, Wash DC’s Union Station and National Mall, the Field Museum, Chicago World’s Fair, CAs Mt Wilson Observatory + 300 more. He built skyscrapers and iconic buildings in almost 20 states all over the country, London and the Philippines.

Burnham designed very few residential homes and only 10 remain in the world. Champaign is very fortunate to have one. However, it is about to be demolished by the school board for a parking lot.

Multiple alternative options exist instead of demolishing the very historic, architecturally relevant and well maintained Burnham House, including finding another space for the annex lot, repurposing the Burnham for education, etc.

Very many are not aware of the very historic and immense architectural legacy that we are very fortunate to have in our community. Very viable, feasible alternatives exist that promote the High School expansion and do not involve demolition of the very Historic Burnham. We hope that our School Board could recognize the benefits of historic preservation and that its potential benefits to students and the community are far greater than providing some additional parking. With some creative thinking, a state of the art high school and the community and country’s historic and architectural legacy can go hand in hand.

Please sign the petition to save the historic Burnham house from demolition.  We ask that the historic Burnham House be preserved for the education and enjoyment of our children, our community, and well beyond.

Please read and sign the petition: Save The Historic Burnham House  Once it is gone, it is lost to all.
For more information and photos, please see

ECPN Interviews: Electronic Media Conservation with Yasmin Dessem

To promote awareness and a clearer understanding of different pathways into specializations that require particular training, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) is conducting a series of interviews with conservation professionals in these specialties. We kicked off the series with Chinese and Japanese painting conservation, and now we are focusing on practitioners in AIC’s Electronic Media Group (EMG). These conservators work with time-based media, which can include moving components, performance, light or sound elements, film and video, analog or born-digital materials. We’ve asked our interviewees to share some thoughts about their career paths, which we hope will inspire new conservation professionals and provide valuable insight into these areas of our professional field.

This is the third post from ECPN’s EMG blog series, for which we first interview Nick Kaplan and more recently, Alex Nichols. For our third interview from the EMG series, we spoke with Yasmin Dessem, currently Head of the Audiovisual Preservation Studio at UCLA Library where she serves as the technical lead as the library continues to develop its program of preservation, digitization and access of its moving image and sound holdings. Previously she managed archive deliverables for new feature releases at Paramount Pictures. She has experience working with a wide variety of moving image and sound formats, as well as pre-film animation devices, silent-era cameras, costumes and paper collections. Yasmin holds Master’s degrees in Art History and Moving Image Archive Studies from UCLA.

Yasmin Dessem (left) and Allie Whalen (right) cleaning and relubricating a Betacam deck. [Photo: Walter Urie]
Yasmin Dessem (left) and Allie Whalen (right) cleaning and relubricating a Betacam deck. [Photo: Walter Urie]
ECPN: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your current position.

Yasmin Dessem (YD): I oversee the preservation of moving image and recorded sound materials at the UCLA Library’s Preservation Department. For nearly 90 years, the UCLA Library has collected audiovisual materials with content such as home movies, oral histories, and radio broadcasts. Examples are home movies of Susan Sontag’s parents sailing to China in the 1920s and field interviews with Watts residents after the 1965 riots. Audiovisual preservation (AV) at the library is a relatively young unit—a dedicated AV preservationist first came on board in 2011. We offer a number of in-house digitization and preservation services and are currently focusing on increasing our capacity and launching a survey.

ECPN: How were you first introduced to conservation, and why did you decide to pursue conservation?

YD: The 1996 re-release of the restored version of Vertigo first made me aware of film restoration and preservation as an actual practice. Later, as I was finishing my Masters in Art History at UCLA, I took a wonderful class on restoration, preservation, and conservation with Professor David A. Scott. The course covered the material care issues and decision-making ethics for a wide breadth of cultural heritage materials. The class struck a deep chord with me, but I was eager to graduate and start working. After graduation, I ended up working in the film industry for about six years. I was tracking down historic stock footage at one job when my mind circled back to the preservation field as I considered how the films were stored and made available. I had entertained the idea of potentially returning to graduate school to study art conservation some day, but around that time the idea of film preservation as a possible career path began to fully materialize for me. As a result, I began exploring potential graduate programs.

ECPN: Of all specializations, what contributed to your decision to pursue electronic media conservation?

YD: My longtime love for film and music intersected with my curiosity for all things historical and technology-related. These were topics that in one form or another always interested me, but I don’t think I had a full grasp on how to combine them meaningfully into a profession. Preservation was the missing key. My exposure to preservation and conservation while studying art history and my later experience working at film studios both helped direct me towards the specialization.

ECPN: What has been your training pathway?  Please list any universities, apprenticeships, technical experience, and any related jobs or hobbies.

YD: I pursued my studies in the Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) Program at UCLA—which persists today as a Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) with a Media Archival Studies specialization. While in the program, I completed internships with Universal Pictures and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and volunteered at the Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive at the University of Southern California. Throughout the two-year MIAS program, I also worked as a fellow at the Center for Primary Research and Training program at UCLA Library Special Collections, where I learned archival processing. My experiences weren’t limited to preserving moving image and sound media, but included paper-based collections, costumes, and film technology. After graduating I attended the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) Film Restoration Summer School hosted by the Cineteca di Bologna and L’Immagine Ritrovata.

ECPN: Are there any particular skills that you feel are important or unique to your discipline?

YD: Digital preservation will continue to be a key area of expertise that’s needed in museums and archives. Preserving the original source material and digitizing content is not enough. There are more resources than ever for strategies and tools for digital preservation, and it’s important to seek them out. Another valuable skill is developing a level of comfort with handling and understanding the unique characteristics of a wide variety of physical analog formats  such as film, videotape, audiotape, and grooved media (LP, 78s, lacquer discs, wax cylinders, etc.). Similarly, it’s helpful to have a familiarity with playback devices for these obsolete media formats (equipment like open-reel decks or video decks.) Lastly, metadata can be an unsung hero in media preservation. Often, we’re the first to see or hear a recording in decades, so capturing metadata around the point of transfer is critical. Metadata standards can be a rabbit hole of complexities, especially when it comes to describing audiovisual media, but understanding their application is an essential skill.

Lacquer disc cleaning and transfer workshop at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in Havana, Cuba [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
Lacquer disc cleaning and transfer workshop at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in Havana, Cuba [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
ECPN: What are some of your current projects, research, or interests?

YD: We’re just wrapping up digitization of materials from the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company (GSM), an African American-owned and operated insurance firm established in Los Angeles in 1925 in response to discriminatory practices that restricted the ability of African American residents to purchase insurance. GSM operated for 85 years and their collection is a vibrant resource documenting Los Angeles and the empowerment of a community. We received grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation to support this work. The digitized collection is now available on Calisphere. We’ve just started a crowd sourcing project working with former GSM staffers to describe any unidentified content. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, hearing everyone’s stories and seeing how much it means to everyone involved to have this collection preserved and made available.

We’ve also been in preparation to launch a large-scale survey that will help us gather data on the Library’s audiovisual collections that can be used for long term-planning. Outside of UCLA, we’ve been involved with ongoing work with cultural heritage institutions in Cuba. Last February, I set up equipment and held a workshop on the digitization of radio transcription discs held at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba (IHC) in Havana. I’m heading back there next week to begin a project to transfer IHC’s open reel audio collections.

ECPN: In your opinion, what is an important research area or need in your specialization?

YD: It’s crucial to preserve the expertise related to the operation and repair of playback equipment. Playback equipment will become more and more difficult to source in the future. Engineers, whose entire careers are dedicated to the use and care of this equipment, are some of the best resources for this knowledge. Their knowledge is shared through conversation, YouTube videos, social media, and professional workshops. Documenting the skills required to handle, maintain, calibrate, and service this equipment in a more formalized way and sharing that knowledge widely will ensure that the preservationists can keep their equipment viable for longer.

ECPN: Do you have any advice for prospective emerging conservators who would like to pursue this specialization?

YD: Try everything. Media preservation requires a wide variety of skills from computer coding to soldering decades-old circuit boards. Depending on where your career takes you, it’s good to have at least a passing familiarity with the full range of skills you may need to call upon. Apply for internships or fellowships with organizations, like the National Digital Stewardship Residency. Volunteer at community-based archives that need help getting their collections in order. Join professional organizations, like the Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) or the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Attend conferences like code4lib, the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), or the Digital Asset Symposium (DAS). Network with engineers or preservation professionals to continue to grow your own expertise, but also share your own skills when you can. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are a fundamental part of the profession.

Perforation repair of 16 mm film [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
Perforation repair of 16 mm film [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
ECPN: Please share any last thoughts or reflections.

YD: One thing to be aware of, if you’re a woman in the field of audiovisual preservation, is that you may occasionally run into people who are surprised to see a woman working with technology (much less wielding a screwdriver!). This response persists to some degree despite the presence of many successful female professionals in the field. What’s encouraging, however, is seeing the growth of groups like the Women in Recorded Sound collective at ARSC providing support.

Audiovisual preservation is such a gratifying profession. Having the opportunity to make historic content available is incredibly meaningful work that I feel lucky to be a part of everyday. On an even more basic level, figuring out a new workflow or getting a piece of equipment to finally work is just so viscerally satisfying. I’m part of an amazing team whose passion, humor and willingness to try out new things inspires me every day and makes me feel so lucky to be doing this work.

Digital Repository Specialist (New York, NY, USA)


David Booth Conservation Department and Center
Closing date: November 17, 2017

The Museum of Modern Art is currently accepting applications for the position of digital repository specialist to work within the Media Conservation section of the David Booth Conservation Department and Center. This unique role provides an opportunity for a candidate with broad experience in repository management and digital preservation to advance the operation and development of the Museum’s Digital Repository for Museum Collections (DRMC), one of the first digital repositories for art at a major US museum. This role involves the day-to-day operation of an OAIS-compliant repository ecosystem to support the ingest, storage, preservation, discovery, and distribution of the Museum’s digital art collection. Daily activities include preparation of art materials for ingest; examination of SIP transfer and ingest status; resolution of errors; quality control over the ingest process from submission to storage at the object level; tracking support tickets with vendors; and liaising with programmers, IT staff, Media Conservation, and outside partners as needed.

The Museum’s repository ecosystem includes software applications: Archivematica and AToM/Binder by Artefactual Systems, The Museum System (TMS) by Gallery Systems, and NetX. These are supported by NoSQL document-oriented databases (Elasticsearch, MongDB, Solr, etc), REST, and JSON. Metadata standards used are primarily Dublin Core, METS, and PREMIS. All development is largely written in PHP, Javascript, and Python.

Reporting to the Agnes Gund chief conservator, the incumbent will have the following specific responsibilities:

  • Manages and operates the Museum’s Digital Repository for Museum Collections (DRMC).
  • Works with internal and external partners on the ongoing development of the DRMC, which incorporates Archivematica and the application “Binder”.
  • Works closely and collaboratively with Information Technology (IT) on the development, maintenance, and internal management of the core technical infrastructure of the DRMC.
  • Works closely with Media Conservation, Registrar, curatorial, and Collection and Exhibition Technology team on DRMC improvements and workflows.
  • Evaluates and tests new digital-preservation technologies, tools, and protocols.
  • Leads discussions with diverse stakeholders on the development of digital-preservation strategy, policy, and procedures for the DRMC.
  • Creates and maintains documentation and training materials.
  • Works with the Conservation department and the Archives on the sustainability of digital records and data pertaining to artworks in the Museum’s collection.
  • Actively participates in open-source development community forums and working groups related to aspects of the DRMC.

Qualified candidates will possess a graduate degree (MLIS or MA) in a field related to the position. Minimum five years relevant experience. Experience working in a cultural heritage institution (such as a museum, library, or archive) is required; museum is preferred. Experience in software development is essential, with an emphasis on the management of collaborative, open-source development projects. Attention to detail and ability to work for long stretches on mission-critical but repetitive tasks. Knowledge of file storage technologies, fixity, fundamental practices of storage management, digital forensics, and computer based jobs and scripts (e.g., Python, bash). Strong command-line skills (e.g., UNIX/Linux navigation, command-line tools) and knowledge of version-control software, including Git. Ability to liaise with IT department staff and familiarity with enterprise IT infrastructure (data networks, VMWare/virtual machines, scale out storage, and tape libraries). Familiarity with image, audio, video, and text file formats, especially as they relate to digital library standards, encoding/decoding/transcoding, and related metadata schemas. Strong interpersonal and written communication skills. Ability to establish positive and productive collaborations with a range of stakeholders within and outside the Museum, and to articulate complex systems and software issues in accessible language. Demonstrated ability to adjust priorities, manage time wisely, and make quick, effective decisions in a fast-paced environment. Strong project-management and budget-management skills, including planning, organization, and time management. Ability to travel as required.

Application instructions: Candidates must submit a CV and detailed letter of interest stating education, relevant experience, involvement with software development projects, experiences working in cultural institutions and research interests. The inclusion of a writing sample, either published work or work-related documentation or research, is strongly recommended. The application should include the names of three references, but letters from references are not requested. All material, in digital form, should be sent to, by no later than November 17, 2017.

The Museum of Modern Art is an equal opportunity employer and considers all candidates for employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation.