43rd Annual Meeting – ECPN/CIPP Happy Hour, May 13

Before the opening sessions began, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network and Conservators In Private Practice co-hosted an evening happy hour at the Hyatt Regency Miami (sponsored by Tru Vue, Inc.). Everyone at the conference was welcome as this event was not ticketed. Appetizers present included breads, cheeses, hummus, fruits and vegetables, and even mini burgers. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available for purchase.
Attendees ate, drank, and mingled indoors on the Promenade or outside on the Riverwalk Terrace (image below). The event was well attended with probably between one or two hundred people networking and having fun. Some people decided to stay inside the air conditioned building while others went outside to enjoy the 80˚ weather and view of the Miami River. There were tables and chairs available for small groups to gather, and alternatively, many small groups also chose to sit on the steps and relax.
I certainly recommend those of you who did not attend to do so at a future conference, especially if you are an emerging professional. This happy hour was an excellent opportunity to meet the other attendees. If you are someone who is nervous about attending, please remember that this is supposed to be laid-back and other people want to meet you too. If you know some people at the conference, feel free to begin the evening with them. But after you are more comfortable, you should also make an effort to branch-out and talk to people that you do not know. And do not forget to distribute business cards to your new contacts.
If you want to learn more about other networking opportunities open to attendees, you should read reviews for the Opening Reception, Specialty Group Receptions, and Emerging Conservation Professionals Luncheon.

Riverwalk Terrace, Hyatt Regency Miami


43rd Annual Meeting – Opening Session, May 14, Turning Philosophy into Practice: Documenting Process Through White Papers, by Benjamin Haavik

Through many years of preservation practice, Historic New England has developed traditions of care to achieve structural and aesthetic standards in its historical properties. Examples include methods of repairing joints; labeling repair materials; setting varied target dates for the appearance of structures; and larger concepts like “replace in kind.” Benjamin Haavik discussed his efforts as the Team Leader for Property Care to standardize these treatment practices and ethics by creating white papers.
With varying amounts of detail, white papers can standardize practice for both internal work and contracting. Haavik proposes that 75% of any project can be standardized into defined, basic steps. The remaining 25% is the most difficult part of project development. This 25% might include project details (what materials and how much to replace?), organizational philosophy (which of several column styles should be matched?), and practitioner’s experience (how can we best determine methodology in the field?) Time and cost are the limiting factors in standardizing this last 25%, since highly-detailed white papers may address issues that are more effectively determined on a case-by-case basis.
While Haavik’s talk examined management processes, surprising corollaries existed with John Hogan’s and Carol Snow’s “Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings: Conservation of an Ephemeral Art Practice.” Hogan echoed Haavik’s observations about the challenges of realizing the most interpretive portions of a project: here, Sol LeWitt’s instruction-based Wall Drawings. Whether in preservation management or art conservation, codified standards require careful interpretation in order to create successful work.

43rd Annual Meeting – Opening Session, May 14, The False Dichotomy of “Ideal” versus “Practical” Conservation Treatments, by Barbara Appelbaum (presenter) & Paul Himmelstein

AIC’s 43rd Annual Meeting opened with a challenge to its central theme, “Practical Philosophy, or Making Conservation Work.” In her opening talk, Barbara Appelbaum proposed that conservation treatment does not place theory and practice at odds. Instead, treatment is inherently an act of compromise, in which the needs of stakeholders and the needs of the object are blended into an ideal course of action. As acceptable end states for treatment have broadened, a wider range of conservation strategies has become acceptable. Examples were drawn from the contrasting worlds of institutional work and private practice. These environments can offer different types of knowledge about an object’s value, authenticity, and ongoing care. Ethical and effective treatments are equally feasible in both.
Appelbaum cautioned that semantic debates between theory and practice can create burdensome self-doubt among practicing conservators. Our field’s professional literature is both abundant and conflicting, potentially leaving the conscientious practitioner with lingering worries about fundamental practices and tenets.  AIC’s core documents help to address this situation by offering support for flexible and ethical conservation strategies.
Contrasting views on the impact of compromise were discussed elsewhere during the conference, including Julie Biggs’ and Yasmeen Khan’s “Subject and Object: Exploring the Conservator’s Changing Relationship with Collection Material.” While Appelbaum highlighted how conservation treatment may be strengthened through processes of choice and compromise, Biggs and Khan suggested a dilution of achievable treatment goals and specialist skills given the competing demands of traditional conservation, digitization, and exhibition. These underlying themes animated many varied and timely discussions throughout the Miami meeting.

43rd Annual Meeting-Book and Paper Session, May 15, 2015, "16-17th Century Italian Chiaroscuro Woodcuts: Instrumental Analysis, Degradation and Conservation" by Linda Stiber Morenus, Charlotte Eng, Naoko Takahatake, and Diana Rambaldi

The presenter, Linda Stiber Morenus, began her discussion of these complex prints with a description of the printing process. Chiaroscuro woodcuts were intended to emulate chiaroscuro drawings, which were comprised of black chalk shadows and white chalk highlights on colored paper. Color oil-based printing inks were first used to print 14th-century textiles, being used on paper by the mid 15th-century. The chiaroscuro woodblock prints required two to five separate woodblocks, inked with different shades lighter and darker than the midtone colored paper.
In order to better characterize the media, Morenus collaborated with art historian Takahata, and conservation scientists Eng and Rimbaldi from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition to prints at LACMA, the team studied prints from the British Museum and Library of Congress. Out of over 2000 surveyed woodcuts, 72 were studied in depth, with X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), Fiber Optic Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS), and Raman spectroscopy. Inorganic compounds were indicated by XRF analysis. FORS was especially helpful for detection of indigo. Raman spectroscopy provided additional information about organic colorants.
Renaissance artists’ manuals, such as Cennino Cennini’s Libro dell’Arte guided the research by providing information on the most likely colorants for printing inks. Inorganic pigments included lamp black, lead white, ochres, vermillion, verdigris, and orpiment. Organic pigments included indigo and a variety of lake pigments.
After providing background information, the presenter began to focus on deterioration and conservation of the chiaroscuro prints. The prints from the Niccolo Vicentino workshop had a high lead content. The inks typically had a low vehicle-to-pigment ratio, tending to turn gray around the edges, due to the presence of lead sulphide. Verdigris corrosion was also a common problem, as found on “Christ Healing the Paralytic Man” by Giuseppe Niccolo Vicentino, as well as 13 other prints from the same workshop. Typical copper-induced paper degradation included yellow-brown halos around inked areas and cracks in the paper.
Fading and discoloration were major problems for the organic colorants, such as indigo and the yellow lakes. Morenus compared copies of Ugo da Carpi’s “Sybil Reading a Book” in the British Museum and the Library of Congress, finding clear evidence that the indigo in the British copy had faded. The British Museum had confirmed the presence of indigo through Raman spectroscopy. At least 8 of the prints were found through XRF to have high levels of calcium in the same areas where indigo had been identified, suggesting the presence of chalk-based lakes. Organic greens had shifted to blue or brown where organic yellows had faded or become discolored.
The presenter concluded with suggestions and caveats for conservation treatment. First, she advised conservators to exercise caution in aqueous treatment, in order the preserve the topography of the prints. The woodblock creates a relief impression in the paper, and the layering of the inks adds another level of texture that might be altered by humidification, flattening, washing, or lining treatments. The low binder content also makes the inks more vulnerable to saponification and loss during alkaline water washing. Morenus warned that the hydrogen peroxide color reversion treatment for darkened lead white would be particularly risky, because the white lead sulphate end product has a lower refractive index than basic lead carbonate original pigment. This means that treated lead white becomes more translucent, and the lower “hiding power” shifts the tonal balance of the print to appear darker overall.
For exhibit recommendations, Morenus suggested that we should always expect to find fugitive organic colorants in chiaroscuro prints, so exhibit rotations should be planned accordingly. Maximum exhibit conditions should be 5 foot-candles (50 lux) of visible light for 12 weeks of exposure, no more often than every three years. She also indicated that overmatting should be avoided to reduce the risk of differential discoloration.
During the Question and Answer period, Morenus clarified the color order used in printing. Some prints were inked from dark to light, but most were printed with the lightest color first.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these beautiful prints, but I think that the discussion of the lead white conversion treatment-induced refractive index shift was the most important “take-away” from the presentation.

Get Ready for AIC's 43rd Annual Meeting, Emerging Conservators!

Hard to believe, but AIC’s 43rd Annual Meeting in Miami, FL is just around the corner! And ECPN wants to make sure you are aware of the many opportunities to get involved and connect as an emerging conservator at the conference. Below, we’ve highlighted just a few of the activities and events that we think will be of particular interest to emerging professionals. Looking forward to seeing you soon in Miami!
**To register for the ticketed events listed below, please visit AIC’s website: http://www.conservation-us.org/annual-meeting/register#.VT_hkMe7lVg

Before you go…
Get your head in the game and take a few minutes to review Tips for Attending Conferences compiled by ECPN for the AIC’s 40th Annual Meeting in 2012. Download this and other resources for emerging conservators from our newly launched page on the AIC Wiki:
Also, consider signing up to write a blog post or two for Conservators Converse, summarizing a General or Specialty Group Session. This is a great way to engage more deeply in a talk, connect with a speaker, and provide valuable information to colleagues unable to attend the Annual Meeting. If you are interested, sign up for no more than two talks through the Google Docs spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pNEluroUP6aP_Degsdvy0Ns7PMpximU2XDYUkGHia-A/edit?usp=sharing. Contact Rachael Perkins Arenstein, AIC e-Editor, at rachael@amartconservation.com for more information and to receive a log-in for the blog. As an added incentive, everyone who completes two blog entries will be entered in a drawing to win a free 2016 Annual Meeting registration!

Pre-conference Activities
This joint event with the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) and Conservators in Private Practice (CIPP) will feature a panel of speakers, both established and emerging conservators in private practice, who will discuss the benefits, challenges and fine points of establishing a private practice as an emerging conservator. The panelists include: Ana Alba, Cynthia Kuniej-Berry, Lara Kaplan, Stephanie Hornbeck, and Emily McDonald-Korth. After an initial set of moderated discussion topics, there will be time for questions and comments from the audience.
The ECPN-CIPP joint discussion panel on private practice will be immediately followed by our annual Happy Hour, allowing attendees to continue conversations and network in a less formal setting.
The Wiki Workshop will help you get more comfortable with Wikis and also provides a way to give back to our conservation community! Whether you are new to wikis or are looking to learn advanced functions, this workshop will provide guidance, examples, and the opportunity to immediately put into practice what you learn. Basic coding as well as tips for formatting, images, automation, and smoother workflows will be covered. Participants will have an opportunity to practice their new skills on AIC’s Knowledge Base wiki, the Museum of Fine Arts’ CAMEO, NCPTT’s Preservapedia, and SPNHC’s Best Practices wiki, as well as an open “hackathon” for organizing and generating new content. Participants should bring a laptop with wireless capability; plugging strips will be provided.
This is a ticketed event and registration is $39, which includes a boxed lunch.
This workshop will focus on three main areas of running a successful private practice: 1) Accurate estimating; 2) Streamlined documentation and billing; and 3) Outreach and marketing update, including tips for producing videos and using blogs.
The workshop will include lots of time for questions and participation and it is intended for both established and emerging conservation professionals. All three subjects are planned for future CIPP webinars as follow up to enhance the learning process and to make the information available to all CIPP members.
This is a ticketed event and registration is $39.00 for CIPP members and $79.00 for non-members, which includes a boxed lunch.
Conservation and collection care professionals are often called on to lead projects without the organizational power to make decisions. Participants will learn influencing skills, situational leadership techniques, and how to use the art of diplomacy to make a personal difference in value for their organizations or clients. Bob Norris, a management consultant who is deeply familiar with conservation issues will be joined by a mid-career collections manager and an emerging conservator to foster discourse about situational leadership at different points in one’s career. Key concepts will be developed through multiple interactive exercises.
This is a ticketed event and registration is $139.

During the Conference
Since it was so successful last year, ECPN is hosting a second annual speed networking lunch on Saturday, May 16th, aimed at conservators in all stages of their careers. From 12 -1pm, attendees are invited to lunch and network informally while from 1-2pm they will engage in 15-minute networking sessions to discuss a topic of their choice, which may include research interests, career path advice, or resume review.
Please join us! Signup is available online through AIC’s annual meeting website – when you register by May 1st, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire that will allow ECPN to match you with your preferred type of professional. After May 1st, matches that correspond to indicated preferences cannot be guaranteed.
This is a ticketed event and registration is $20, which includes lunch.
We know this means getting up early after a fun night of socializing with colleagues, but it’s worth the effort! Attending business meetings is an important way to stay informed about the state of AIC, your specialty group, and our profession. These meetings will help you better understand how AIC operates and give you an opportunity to express you questions and concerns. And remember, someday it may be you at that podium!
Check your conference program or Sched for specific business meeting times and locations.
SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2-3:15PM
This Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group (LCCDG) will explore various methods of outreach. Which channels work best to communicate knowledge and resources? Which best capture community interest? LCCDG is looking for volunteers willing to take notes during the small group discussions during this session. If you are interested in helping out, please contact one of the co-chairs.
Co-chairs, Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group:
Danielle Creech
Associate Conservator and Manger
ECS – Midwest
Jacqueline Keck
Student and ECPN Liaison
Anahit Campbell
Book Conservator and Conservation Science Graduate Student

Post-conference Activity
History Miami is South Florida’s premier cultural institution committed to gathering, preserving, and celebrating Miami’s history through exhibitions, city tours, education, research, collections, and publications. History Miami’s offsite facility is 12,000 square feet of mixed climate controlled storage space. It houses a variety of the museum’s collections such as the outboard boat and motor collection, aviation collection, archeological materials, and the Whitman Family collection. The building was acquired by the museum in 1990.
The facility is located 15-20 minutes north of the museum and is unstaffed. The goal for the 2015 AIC Angels Project volunteers is to assist in improving the space, and the collections it houses, as well as consulting on ways in which to upgrade the facility conditions. The facility has a high dust level and attendees may be subject to warm environments. To volunteer, please contact Ruth Seyler at rseyler@conservation-us.org.