6.5 2016 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: EMERGENCY! Preparing for Disaster and Confronting the Unexpected in Conservation

Date and Location: The joint 44th Annual AIC and CAC-ACCR Meeting (Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property's 42nd Annual Conference) was held in Montreal, Canada from May 13-May 17, 2016 at the Palais des Congres.

Synopsis: Fifty years after the Arno River breached its banks, the theme for the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and the Canadian Association for Conservation (Association Canadienne pour la Conservation et la Restauration) (CAC-ACCR)'s Joint 44th Annual Meeting and 42nd Annual Conference was Emergency! Preparing for Disasters and Confronting the Unexpected in Conservation Colleagues addressed in a broad-based way the impact of past, present, and future disasters on the protection of cultural property. In addition, confronting the unexpected in conservation--whether it occurs during the treatment of an artifact or during a natural disaster--was covered. The scope of the theme included immediate reactions, such as the application of crowd-mapping technology to aid response efforts, as well as longer term developments stemming from disasters, such as the adoption of simple strategies: Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail, effective risk assessment methodologies, the rapid transformation of damaged artifacts into objects of veneration, the repercussions of instantaneous visibility of destruction. Preparing for Disasters includes, in addition to situations caused by natural disasters, accidents, terrorist activities, and climate change, even well-intended, but misguided interventions that elicit global amusement and/or outrage. Confronting the Unexpected involves surprises encountered along the way in any treatment and can be expanded to include all stakeholders, even future ones, who are affected by a disaster. Communities affected can cross geographic boundaries, social and economic populations, cultural and historical perspectives, and inter-disciplinary expertise. [1]


2.1 Preserving Cultural Heritage Through Development of Digital Technologies and Community Engagement

Speakers: Sarah E. Braun, Sustainable Heritage Consultant, Braun Culture, Heritage, & Development; Jessica Kaisaris, International Business Development, Octoly, Inc.

2.2 Abstract

The continued threat and destruction of the world’s most precious cultural heritage in Syria has left the preservation community demanding greater and more innovative efforts to safeguard and accurately document tangible and intangible heritage worldwide, in any accessible method. This proclaimed crisis is not limited solely to the actions of ISIS; rather, risks associated with climate change, natural disasters, and tourism have each taken a toll on historical monuments worldwide. This paper will explore best practices in engaging local communities to use digital platforms that archive and publish open-sourced data and 3-D mapping photographs for global audiences. It takes a particular focus on women’s inclusion and empowerment to demonstrate the impact of engaging communities as a whole to increase margins of project participation, evolving societal gender roles, financial independence and women in leadership. Pulling from information and data collected from two case studies of Algeria and Morocco—which could be considered high risk areas—proven strategies for mitigating challenges associated with conservation and environmental risks (e.g. climate change), disaster risk reduction, sustainable practices and international collaboration with governments, NGOs and the private sector will be presented, analyzed and evaluated. Our findings conclude one of the most effective ways to address this ongoing crisis and urgency to preserve the world’s cultural heritage must be through the development of sustainable solutions using Information Communication Technology (ICT). Furthermore, our research highlights education as a key factor in successfully engaging local communities, especially women; thus, ICT solutions are recommended to be paired with training workshops that boost interest within areas related to cultural preservation and long-term risk management. In both Morocco and Algeria, for instance, there is a strong correlation between residential proximity to historical monuments and high awareness of the intrinsic value their nation brings to the world. Ownership and responsibility are often felt, particularly among youth. Yet, oftentimes knowledge of best practice in heritage management is not widely known, as governments continue to plan ineffective preservation solutions. As of 2015, seven of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites can be found in Algeria; yet many of the nation’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage has yet to be documented. This lack of available and accessible tools to foster community empowerment and grassroots initiatives that also include the female population is an opportunity that can no longer be ignored. Actively exploring ICT solutions that build on the passion of communities as a whole—including women—can ensure present and future generations remain connected to the history of their ancestors, even if disaster strikes.


3.1 Climate Change: A New Threat to Our Paper Material Heritage

Speakers: Vikram S. Rathore, Deputy Manager, Conservation Center, Mehrangarh Museum, India

3.2 Abstract

Northwest part of India, better known as “Thar” Desert, has always been famous for its dry climatic condition, thin vegetation cover and comparatively low biological activities. Any change in climate may lead to destabilization of its balance with surrounding living and non-living things including art material heritage. Climate change is being discussed frequently at political and research level, mostly focused on environmental, industry, energy, and health. Until now it has not been considered as threat to material heritage which needs to be transmitted to future generation. Thar Desert which includes western part of Rajasthan has very rich cultural heritage, especially world famous Marwar Miniature painting on paper which consist sophisticated technique and material science, considered to be very sensitive to its surrounding climate so any change in climatic factors could initiate complex inter or intra molecular activity to cause irreversible damage in painting. In recent years as indirect effect of global warming, wind patterns are gradually changing in this region and normally blowing southwest winds are being replaced by eastern and other abnormal wind direction, as a result receiving more rain and consequently generating more moisture in air and soil, facilitating favorable conditions for microbiological activities including molds and insects. In this way climate change not only inducing destructive internal structural changes in painting but also promotes external damages as indirect or direct consequences of biological activities on and around object’s surface.


4.1 An Unexpected Challenge: Can Shared Risk Make Good Bedfellows?

Speakers: Lois Olcott Price, Director of Conservation (ret.), Adjunct Senior Conservator, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library; John W. Castle, Director, Facility Services, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

4.2 Abstract

As we absorb the increasingly dire predictions about climate change and its potentially devastating effect on our planet and cities, it is a bit overwhelming to imagine what we can do as individuals, conservators or institutions to help mitigate the risk of this disaster. We know how to deal with the results of burst pipes and leaking roofs, but the impact on entire cities – think Katrina, Sandy and the severe storms that flooded the upper mid-west, and the scope becomes unmanageable. Assuming we accept the premise that climate change is the result of increased levels of carbon dioxide and related substances in the atmosphere caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, however, there is a role that institutions holding cultural heritage collections can play. Institutions have become major consumers of energy in their quest to provide the best possible preservation environment SUSTAINABILITYSustainability85for the collections entrusted to them. And most of that energy comes from the consumption of fossil fuels. The improved monitoring and control provided by building management systems and analytics provided by programs like e-Climate from the Image Permanence Institute are powerful tools in control-ling and understanding our collection environments. It has also become clear that they can be powerful tools for energy conservation when paired with our growing understanding of the buffering capacity of buildings and of general collections’ documented tolerance for limited environmental fluctuations. With reported energy savings of 20, 30 and even 40%, why have relatively few institutions embraced this money saving option that also significantly reduces our carbon footprint? Although all share the risks posed by climate change and are committed to preserving their collections, a lack of understanding between the facilities managers and engineers who design and maintain the systems, conservators and collection managers who care for the collection and administrators who balance the books presents an unexpected challenge. Each feels threatened in a different way, making true structural change and the long term collaboration necessary to implement and maintain a comprehensive project difficult. This presentation presents the results of a survey of members of the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators on their relationships with conservators and collection managers that also queries how this critical relation-ship might be improved. It also explores other barriers to a more sustainable, research based approach to climate control including exhibition loan agreements, the cost of equipment upgrades and staffing. Can these committed professionals with disparate back-grounds and priorities, form an effective alliance as they face a shared risk?


5.1 Sustainable Preservation on a Small Island: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Passive and Mechanized Environments

Speakers: Jeremy Linden, Senior Preservation Environment Specialist, Image Permanence Institute; Ronald Harvey, Principal/Conservator, Tuckerbrook Conservation LLC; Jennifer Pye, Chief Curator, Monhegan Museum

5.2 Abstract

In 2013 the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) Planning Grant to develop a strategy for dealing with the threat associated with high relative humidity and moisture levels to its collections and historic buildings (three of which are on the National Register). The Museum, located on Monhegan Island, ten miles off the coast of Maine, also needed to develop a strategy for the sustainable operation of its collections storage vaults due to prohibitively high energy costs on the island (fuel costs are double the price on the mainland, and electricity costs are more than 500% higher than mainland prices). This session will examine and describe the work of the interdisciplinary project team, including the museum staff, consultants in architectural preservation, objects conservation, and sustainable preservation environments, and HVAC design consultants, to develop holistic preservation plans for the historic and modern structures on site. The team used environmental data from both storage and exhibit environments, as well as data from the mechanical systems in the storage vaults, to analyze initial environmental performance, identify and confirm environmental threats, and propose, test, and assess initial experiments for future strategies. The resulting proposed strategies were a blend of passive and active environmental control, ranging from period-appropriate repairs to historic envelopes and re-routing of runoff water on the site to operational adjustments and improvements to mechanical system controls. The final report for the study provided the basis for a successful 2015 NEH SCHC Implementation Grant proposal. Beyond the significance to sustainable preservation on site, Monhegan’s experience and approach serve as an illustrative case study on the potential for passive environmental management techniques in historic structures, the prioritization and decision-making process for storage of cultural and artistic holdings at a small institution, and the impact (and necessity) of interdisciplinary cooperation when formulating preservation strategies that impact the institution at a macro-level.


6.1 Achieving Competing Goals: Energy Efficient Cold-Storage

Speakers: Shengyin Xu, Manager, Sustainability & Capital Projects at Minnesota Historical Society; Jeremy Linden, Preservation Environment Specialist, Image Permanence Institute; Tom Braun, Senior Objects Conservator, Minnesota Historical Society

6.2 Abstract

Current industry standards indicate that audio-visual film materials should be stored in a range of 36°F to 70°F and 20-50% relative humidity (International Standards Organization); however, these ranges are often unattainable and not sustainable in the long-term for organizations. These ranges do not take into consideration the climate of the storage area (e.g. outdoor conditions) or the costs to maintain these conditions in the long-term. This study, conducted by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) and funded by a NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Planning Grant, wished to understand and balance the issues of long-term preservation for film materials. These issues include preservation metrics, potential energy use, cost for maintenance, as well as investment cost for any recommended system or building upgrades. To examine these factors and help MNHS develop a strategy for energy-efficient, long-term film storage, an interdisciplinary team was brought together in a series of collaborative workshops. The team included staff from collections, conservation, facilities, risk management, and sustainability, and brought in experts in museum sustainability, archival architecture, film preservation, and building mechanical systems. To facilitate and manage the broad collaboration of participants, specific tools and processes were utilized throughout the study. Through this collaboration, many different passive and active strategies initially brought forth were reduced to a cohesive set of recommendations that included building improvements and specific upgrades of equipment. In all, the bundle of strategies will help MNHS increase the film collections Preservation Index (PI), Image Permanence Institute’s measure of the “decay rate of vulnerable organic materials” in different temperature and relative humidity conditions, while also decreasing energy use and operating costs. Specifically, MNHS hopes to increase the PI by 2-4 times from 100 years to a range of 200—400 years allowing for seasonal fluctuation. Further, a subset of critical film material will increase its PI from 100 years to 900 years. In addition to improving the long-range preservation for film collections, there is also an anticipated savings of $16,600 in energy costs per year as compared to baseline adaptations of the existing system. While the study focused on the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections storage, these findings have significance for many organizations. The range of strategies examined included low capital investment cost options, such as reconfiguration of the collections by material type and the impact of passive mechanical interventions. The cost-benefit analysis of these options will provide a start for organizations to find their own path in developing energy-efficient collections storage. Further, the interdisciplinary processes utilized by the study were essential in arriving at the final recommended bundle of strategies. As such, this proposal hopes participants will understand the issues that must be considered in designing cold storage for collections, as well as the collaborative processes that help balance these issues towards achieving the best possible storage environment within existing facilities and budget constraints.


7.1 Sustainable Energy Reductions without Relaxed Environmental Criteria for a Hypothetical Museum in Montreal

Speakers: William Lull, President, Garrison/Lull Inc.

7.2 Abstract

Recent economics lead to challenges in meeting operating costs for collections-holding institutions. This has spurred interest in means to reduce annual operating costs by reducing energy use. This paper presents the potential energy savings from various energy conservation measures (ECMs) that can be done without relaxing the environmental criteria or otherwise placing collec-tions at risk. These ECMs are then compared to the energy saving from relaxing the environmental criteria from 20-22 degC @ 45-55% RH to 15-26 degC @ 40-60%RH, a savings analysis presented in the paper at last year’s meeting[1]. The savings are based on a block load analysis in a hypothetical building meeting ASHRAE Standard 90.1 for the building envelope, and ASHRAE Standard 62.1 for outside air. The collections space analyzed for savings is a typical museum gallery/collections use spaces in the Montreal climate. Energy rates are presented in a form so that the reader can easily convert to actual rates at their institution to project their ECM savings, with an example provided. In making the comparison, in addition to energy use, each ECM is evaluated and compared for its global carbon dioxide emissions for the energy as used in Montreal. [1] Lull, William P.: Sustainable Energy Reduction from Relaxed Environmental Criteria in Five Canadian Cities, AIC 2015 Poster Paper; Presented at the CAC 2014 Annual Meeting on June 8 in Quebec City.