6.3 2014 Annual Conference Program

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This page is maintained by the Sustainability Committee at the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). It is intended to provide information about sustainable practices for AIC members, conservation/preservation professionals, and other interested parties within the cultural heritage profession. Please send comments and suggestions to sustainability(at)conservation-us.org.


1.1 Conference Theme and General Information

Theme: Conscientious Conservation - Sustainable Choices in Collection Care

Date and Location: The 42nd Annual AIC Meeting was held in San Francisco, CA from May 28- May31, 2014

Synopsis: No longer focusing exclusively on treatment, conservation professionals today routinely incorporate preventive measures into the care of cultural heritage. Coupled with the awareness that our work takes place within the larger context of an increasingly interconnected and vulnerable global environment, we have become more dedicated to the issue of sustainability. The new Collections Care Network and the Sustainability Committee combined forces to develop a program for 2014 under the theme Conscientious Conservation – Sustainable Choices in Collection Care, which explored how these two concepts are changing the way we practice conservation. Topics ranged from architectural projects to re-housing and storage, approaches to archaeological excavations, collection maintenance practices, or recycling and efficiencies in your own private practice. [1]


2.1 Life Cycle Assessments of Museum Loans and Exhibitions: Four Case Studies at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Speakers: Sarah Nunberg, The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC; Pamela Hatchfield, Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Head of Objects Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Matthew Eckelman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Northeastern University

2.2 Abstract

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and the Museum Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) commissioned Northeastern University (NEU) environmental engineering students under the direction of Dr. Matthew Eckelman to study the environmental and economic impact of museum loan and exhibition practices. This project grew from discussions concerning the potential benefits and risks of changes in climate guidelines for museum loans. Further consideration of loan activities led to examination of not only electricity used for environmental control, but also the materials and energy required to transport art for loans and prepare gallery space for exhibitions. Treatment materials were also examined, beginning a systematic evaluation of the environmental impact of the resins we use. Since the 1990s, industry has used the life cycle assessment (LCA) tool to evaluate actions, economic impact, inefficient energy use and waste management. Once hotspots are identified, libraries, museums, private practitioners, archives and heritage institutions can effectively work towards environmental, economic and socially sustainable goals when caring for collections. Four LCAs were commissioned for this project. LCA 1 compared efficiencies of the cost and life cycle of halogen lamps with light emitting diode (LED) lamps in a single MFA gallery. This study concluded that in addition to long term cost savings, LED use results in lower environmental impact, lower eco-toxicity and fewer human health indicators than halogen lamps. LCA 2 considered the materials and environmental impact related to loan preparation and shipment to two different venues. Plexiglas™ vitrines, gallery lighting and climate controls were responsible for approximately one third of the carbon emissions from the exhibition preparation phase. Crate and Plexiglas™ reuse as few as four times would significantly lower the loan carbon impact. However, the highest environmental impact of all loan phases proved to be the carbon foot print of the courier who travels two round trips for every one object round trip and has more than three times the impact of the art transport. LCA 3 addressed cost and energy savings resulting from the temporary shutdown (coasting) of air handling equipment for one newly constructed gallery at the MFA. The study found that turning off the air handling systems for 12 hours nightly achieved a 21% (daily) reduction in cost and electricity use. LCA 4 compared silane stone consolidant with Acryloid B-72 in a 1:1 acetone/ethanol solution, and Acryloid B-72 in xylene for treatment of a Romanesque church façade in the MFA collection. The study considered the ecotoxicity, human toxicity, acidification, and global warming potential of each system and concluded that silane use results in a significantly AIC Annual Meeting 2014 Abstracts110higher impact in every category, even recommending the B72/xylene system over the silanes. LCA is a useful tool, dependent on the practitioner’s knowledge and the consumer’s commitment to sustainable work habits and lifestyle. Studying the impact of our actions will allow us to make educated decisions and consequently achieve more sustainable, responsible best practices.


3.1 (Seminar) Conservators in Private Practice: Greening Your Conservation Practice

Speakers: Monona Rosol and Betsy Haude (Panel Discussion)

3.2 Abstract

Keynote speaker Monona Rossol will focus on health and safety in the conservation studio. Monona is a specialist in the field who has trained art conservation workers throughout the museum world. Her topics will include “Why a green studio might not be a safe studio; understanding air quality standards; selecting safer chemicals scientifically; and proper ventilation systems on a budget.” These informal and informative presentations will include plenty of time for questions and answers. 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. Wendy Yeung will discuss the San Francisco Green Business Program, and Anna Jaeger of Caravan Studio, San Francisco, will cover web/computer related green business administration.