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


42nd Annual Meeting – Conservators in Private Practice, May 28, "Greening your Conservation Practice."

Believing heat wheels work is like believing you can section off a part of a hot tub for peeing.

Headline speaker Monona Rossol began this year’s CIPP workshop with her characteristic flair when referring to the use of the heat exchange system with contaminated air streams. The system is often recommended to score points for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification and served as an example of how greener practices may not necessarily be safer practices.  An Industrial Hygienist and health and safety champion for the arts community, Monona is the founder of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety (ACTS). If you don’t leave one of her lectures concerned about everything you have ever come in contact with, you should at the very least have a better idea of how to navigate your way through the jargon of government, industry and product health and safety information.
The beginning of Monona’s talk introduced the pitfalls of blindly accepting the safety information provided by government regulatory organizations and manufacturers. In her explanation of many of the acronyms associated with chemical classifications and exposure assessments, Monona emphasized that it’s what we don’t know about chemicals that is the most concerning. For example, phrases such as “not listed as a carcinogen” and “generally recognized as safe” do not indicate that the chemical is not toxic, but may mean that it has never been tested. She also reviewed the improved chemical labeling and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), as outlined by the new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Even though SDSs are better than their predecessors, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), they still are limited by lack of information. Finally, she discussed commercially manipulated and undefined “green” phrases like all natural–just because something comes from nature does not make it is safe–and biodegradable– chemicals can breakdown into compounds that can be more toxic than what you started with.
So what can we do as conservators and consumers to protect ourselves, the others we work with and the environment?

  • Become a conscientious and informed user; understand and learn about the products in your studio as well as the language and limitations of hazard communication (such as manufacturer provided SDSs) and local and federal regulations.
  • Purchase products from companies that disclose the full ingredient lists and avoid products that have proprietary formulations.
  • Support laws such as California’s PROP 65, which requires the state to publish a list of toxic chemicals. Businesses must notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in their products or that are released into the environment. By allowing anyone “acting in the public interest” to enforce the law, it takes the responsibility for policing manufacturers and their harmful materials out of the hands of legislators and bureaucrats and into the hands of the people who are being affected by toxic chemicals (you!).

In the second half of her presentation, Monona discussed air quality and fume and particle extraction. She first reviewed the definitions of gases, vapors, fumes, dusts, mists, nano-particles and smokes; their associated health hazards; and types of filters that can be used. In her discussion of fume extraction, she cautioned that window fans and air conditioners are not proper ventilation and of the limited efficacy of portable, filter-based fume extractors. Her main point was that proper extraction involves a displacement system that exhausts to the exterior in concert with bringing in uncontaminated air from a source on a wall across from the exhaust (not from an adjacent wall or window). A clear path of air flow should put the conservator’s head directly in the stream. Filter-based extractors can be selective to the vapors and/or particles sizes they collect; only clear the immediate work area; do not provide clean replacement air; and have no indication of when the filter is no longer functioning properly. She stressed that when you are designing your ventilation system, you should consult a specialist with an industrial ventilation background. While there were too many points to discuss in a few hour workshop and certainly too many to adequately cover in a blog, Monona is always willing to respond to anyone’s concerns or review your studio set-up.

The remainder of the session focused on greener business practices. Chair of the Committee on Sustainability, Betsy Haude, outlined the committee’s activities over the past year, including several AIC News articles and making their wiki into an informative and useful resource.
Objects Conservator Sarah Nunberg, followed up with an outline of the results of a Life Cycle Assessment to look at the environmental impact of museum practices. Conducted in collaboration with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, students at Northeastern University performed four case studies using a computer program with a series of user defined parameters:  1) halogen vs. LED lighting, 2) solvents used for consolidation of stone, 3) loans and transport, and 4) HVAC systems. They concluded that the LED lighting was more energy efficient. In the second case, silane in ethanol proved to have the greatest negative environmental impact over B72 in xylene and B72 in acetone and ethanol; xylene had a greater impact than acetone/ethanol primarily due to its production. In their loan assessment they compared a loan going to Tampa, Florida and a loan going to Japan. Interestingly, they discovered that accommodating for the courier had the greatest environmental impact. Finally, their study also showed that shutting down HVAC systems every night decreased the energy costs by 40%, but that the overall energy impact also depended on the source. Seeing quantified data on these various museum conditions allows for a discussion on how museums can potentially reduce their environmental impact, while still considering the elements of maintaining and promoting their collections.
The final three San Francisco-based speakers discussed the various programs that are available for greening business in California.  Wendy Yeung of the California Green Development Program presented on how this government program works with local business to implement environmental protocols that are both sustainable and profitable. Anya Deepak, a Commercial Toxics Reduction Associate with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, discussed their program for artists, which is an outreach initiative to raise awareness among Bay Area artists on environmental and health issues associated with their art materials. The program is currently in the first phase of implementation and will eventually address disposal, safety and finding alternatives. Organizers discovered they were able to get remarkable participation and interest from all the studios they contacted by suggesting that the artists could have an effect on the environment by following these practices–a notably more positive response than when they tried to appeal to the artist’s personal health and safety. Finally, Anna Jaeger from Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup Global, discussed various electronic and tech-based programs for greener business administration. Her examples focused on the idea that it is more effective to change the situation or environment than to change an individual’s behavior. Tips included using smart power strips and multi-function machines; conducting virtual meetings; and purchasing refurbished electronics since the majority of energy use goes into their production.
The seminar concluded with a group discussion of what sustainability means to us and the field of conservation. Can artifact preservation and environmental preservation coexist? How can we make the annual meeting more sustainable? Should ventilation regulations focus on optimal human performance within that space or optimal environmental impact?

Get Ready for San Francisco with the Sustainability Committee: Come see us!

AIC's 42nd Annual Meeting - 2014
This is the fourth in a series of posts by the Sustainability Committee in the run-up to the 2014 Annual Meeting, describing sustainability issues and initiatives in the city of San Francisco. The first blog post explained plastic bag and container laws. The second described the water crisis in California. The third post was about the California Academy of Sciences: The world’s greenest museum. Here, I will tell you about the activities the Sustainability Committee will be involved in during the conference.
1. We will be sharing a booth with the Health & Safety Committee. Stop by! We will have samples of sustainable materials and handouts on various topics relating to sustainability in conservation.
2. On Friday, May 30th from 1-2 PM, we will host a Sustainability Roundtable Discussion in the Hospitality Room: How Do We Support Meaningful Change in Our Cultural Institutions? It’s free! Come check it out. It will be a conversation about engaging decision-makers in museums, libraries, and archives on the topic of sustainability.  How do individuals rally interest, build momentum, and transition from well-meaning intentions to meaningful action in their cultural institutions at large? During this informal discussion, members of the sustainability committee along with facilitators Sarah Stauderman, Collections Care Manager at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and Jia-Sun Tsang, Senior Paintings Conservator at the Smithsonian Institution will share real-life examples of the sustainability movement in cultural heritage. Bring your questions and ideas to share!
3. Some members of the committee have put together a poster for the poster session. The poster session will be divided into two venues. Our poster will be #46 in the SeaCliff Foyer: Life Cycle Assessments: Lighting, HVAC, Loans, and Treatments by Sarah Nunberg, Pamela Hatchfield, Dr. Matthew Eckelman, and the AIC Sustainability Committee. Check it out if these questions interest you: What is the environmental impact difference between LEDs and Halogen lamps? What aspects of a loan have the biggest environmental impact? How much energy does regularly shutting down, or coasting, the HVAC system save? Silanes vs B-72 in Acetone:Ethanol vs B-72 in Xylene: Which Has a Higher Human and Environmental Impact? The poster session runs from 10 AM Thursday through Friday evening. For those unable to see the poster in person, it will be available to download from the AIC website sometime in June.
4. At the CIPP Seminar on Wednesday from 1-5PM, two of our committee members will take part in a panel discussion on Greening your Business. AIC Sustainability Committee Chair Betsy Haude (Senior Paper Conservator, Library of Congress) will present an overview of the committee’s work and Sarah Nunberg (Objects Conservation Studio LLC, Brooklyn, NY) will speak on sustainable practices in the conservation studio.
5. Committee member Christian Hernandez has prepared a talk for the StashFlash Session on recycled materials and long-term storage. Christian will not be attending the conference, but is sending is PowerPoint.

39th Annual Meeting – CIPP Seminar: Obtaining Work Through The Insurance Industry

Written and Video Review of the 2011 CIPP Seminar – Philadelphia

“Claiming Your Piece of the Insurance Pie”


There was at this seminar an excellent cross section of insurance experts that are intimately associated with the art conservation field: George Schwartz our fearless CIPP leader and Vice Chair last year (our new Chair For 2012) who teaches on this subject; Sylvia Leonard Wolf of Fine Art Appraisers and Consultants, NY, NY; Barbara Chamberlain, Director of the Central Region USA, Art Collection Mgmt for Chartis Insurance from Palm Beach, Fl; Mary L. Sheridan, Assistant Fine Art Manager, Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Co. from NY, NY. Let me also give an honorable mention to Gordon Lewis whose wealth of experience in working with insurance companies in many capacities, his contacts, his coordination of and for this meeting, his input during the meeting is much appreciated.

George’s presentation the first two hours was an excellent primer in understanding how the insurance field works in settling claims. His depth of detail and the valuable information he presented in his PowerPoint we hope will be available online soon. Much or all of his information seemed to be a direct result of working with the insurance industry for decades in the capacity of an art conservator (sorry about the reference to your age George) and being a teacher on the subject.  Perhaps this is not the place to try and summarize his presentation and I won’t try. If you would like to contact George call (561) 912 0030 or george@conservart.com www.ConservArt.net

See his video clip:

Sylvia Leonard Wolf, who teaches her subject at NYU, spoke from her extensive experience as an appraiser and how appraisals impact claims and treatments that conservators perform. She works closely with conservation issues and spoke eloquently and on subject while presenting important issues that conservators must be sensitive to. A couple of key points she made are that conservators should always remember:

*Always get paid for everything you do (bill out at full rate) for your expertise, consultations and services when working on issues for insurance companies.

* If you are looking to network for contacts, appraisers refer conservation work.

You may contact Sylvia at www.sylvialeonardwolf.com, (845) 679 6363, SylviaLWolf@gmail.com

Barbara Chamberlain, Chartis Insurance, gave a terrific presentation and the audience was well served by her openness to respond to questions. Her staggering responsibilities regarding high-end collections clients was most interesting. She confirmed the high regard that Chartis has for the Conservation Field and indeed considers it an essential part of the team to service their clients. It was very interesting to hear the priorities Chartis has to care for and prepare collections in order to avoid damage… not just respond to damage. She is available for you to contact her at (561) 623 4050 and at barbarae.chamberlain@chartisinsurance.com See her video clip: 

Mary Sheridan, Chubb & Son Insurance, was very open and personable about her company’s efforts with high end art collections and clients. Many similarities between Chubb and Chartis in how they care for collections and respond to needs were expressed. Mary’s discussion and her participation in questions and answers were invaluable and very entertaining. Her extensive experience with art conservation was evident and she spoke on subject and to our profession’s interests. She is available for you to contact her at (212) 612 4384 and mlsheridan@chubb.com

In summary, I think it was generally expressed among attendees and presenters that  a follow up effort would be beneficial to art conservators in order to better understand how to get work from insurance companies, as there are many different sources from which a conservator can receive work. See the following video clip: 


If you have suggestions for the 2012 CIPP program in Albuquerque, NM, contact Judith Tartt of Art-Care (www.art-care.com), new CIPP Vice Chair and program organizer.

Express yourself and reach out: “Like” this article by clicking on the thumbs up below, refer this posting to others you connect with via Facebook, Twitter etc. Please pass the link for this blog post along to other conservators.

Scott M. Haskins, Professional Associate AIC

Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL, Inc.)


805 564 3438