From the Bench: New Blog Series Highlights the Work of Conservators

IMLS, the American Institute for Conservation, and Heritage Preservation, welcome you to a new blog series, “From the Bench.”

Every day in museum, library, and private labs across the country, conservators go about the work of ensuring that the objects that define us are protected and preserved for the benefit of our own and of future generations. They create the first lines of defense against forces that would otherwise see the materials we hold dear reduced to unrecognizable dust, smears, or puddles and thus quieting their stories.

Conservators are first-rate scientists and detectives, working at every scale from the sub-molecular to that of massive building environments and using tools ranging from the simplest swabs to those that rival well-outfitted chemistry and physics labs anywhere. The discoveries they make—sometimes in the course of routine documentation and other times as part of a rigorous scientific protocol—reveal hidden histories and prompt new lines of inquiry every day.

It’s easy to understand why conservators say their work is gratifying. Routine and predictability are punctuated with astounding breakthroughs. Most of all, to them, their work in caring for objects is most valuable because it results in increased access and learning for now and long into the future.

IMLS is proud to support conservation work, and we are delighted to help sponsor this opportunity for conservators to tell about their work from the bench. We hope you enjoy the series.

Guidelines for grant applications for collections care and conservation projects will be available on the IMLS website in mid-October.  Applications are due through on January 15, 2013. For more information on these and other funding programs, please visit