6.6 2017 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: Treatment 2017: Innovation in Conservation and Collections Care

Date and Location: The 45th Annual AIC Meeting will be held in Chicago, IL from May 28-June 2, 2017

Synopsis: Whether item or collection-level, preventive or interventive, treatment remains at the heart of what conservators do in order to preserve cultural heritage collections. The design and implementation of an ethical and sound conservation treatment, even the ultimate decision of no treatment at all, begin before its commencement and the consequences continue well beyond its completion. Papers were solicited that explore various facets of conservation treatments and collection care programs intended to prolong the lifetime of cultural property. Topics include, but are not limited to, a reconsideration of historic procedures no longer in practice, cutting edge technologies employed in treatments, effective preventive conservation or collection care steps that reduce the necessity or extent of interventive treatments, the incorporation of sustainability into conservation treatments, or innovations in treatment design, execution, and documentation.[1]


2.1 With Room to Grow: Design and Construction of a New Conservation Facility at the University of Washington Libraries

Speakers: Justin P. Johnson, Senior Conservator, University of Washington Libraries


2.2 Abstract

The University of Washington Libraries in Seattle, WA completed construction of a new conservation facility in February 2016. This paper will cover the many challenges encountered as well as the many innovative and practical solutions developed by Libraries staff in collaboration with UW Capital Projects staff, architects and contractors. The new 4,000 sq. ft. facility was built, in part, to support a new endowed conservator position funded in part by an Andrew W. Mellon award. The current lab lacked both the space and the required equipment to support the new position. Previously, three staff members and as many as three students worked together in a 2,000 sq. ft. basement with limited support for complex treatment to meet the Libraries’ conservation needs. The new lab would need to incorporate both the current staff, the new conservator, and allow for future capacity and growth. With the growing diversity of collection materials, staff also designed the space to support more complex photograph and paper conservation in the future. The new design therefore had to comfortably house not only existing equipment and furniture, but also new aqueous and chemical treatment apparatus, documentation and examination equipment, and increased storage, workspace and office needs. Location was a primary challenge early in design as HVAC concerns and fume hood installation required that the facility be relocated from its existing basement location. Additionally, designing for current need as well as future capacity while only doubling available square footage required significant experimentation with workflow, storage design, and efficient space use. There were also inherent challenges in communicating the unique needs of a hybrid conservation facility and its staff to architects, facilities staff, laboratory consultants and other stakeholders and collaborators throughout the project. The results of this three-year project will be presented along with discussion of the many communication solutions staff created to address design and fundraising needs. Designing the space for future flexibility and practical material storage, innovative fume-hood design, original designs for laboratory furniture, and sustainable management practices will all be covered. Now fully operational, post-construction project insights and performance will also be shared.


3.1 What Do You Mean Telecom Serves and Preservation Don’t Mix? Sustainable Preservation Environments and the Building of an Environmental Team

Speaker: Jeremy Linden, Senior Preservation Environment Specialist, Image Permanence Institute; Liz Dube, Conservator, University of Notre Dame Libraries

3.2 Abstract

Between 2014 and 2016 the University of Notre Dame Libraries completed a National Endowment for the Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Planning Grant to improve and make more sustainable the preservation environment for the University’s Rare Book and Special Collections (RBSC) storage area in the basement of Hesburgh Library. Working with an Environmental Team consisting of members from the Hesburgh Library’s RBSC, Facilities, and Preservation Department Staffs, the campus Utilities Department, the Office of Sustainability, and the Facilities Design and Operations Department, as well as consultants from the Image Permanence Institute, the University was able to diagnose the cause of sub-optimal preservation conditions, as well as identify opportunities for improved preservation and reduced energy consumption. This talk will briefly describe how the team used documentation and environmental data analysis to better understand the air-handling system for the Rare Book and Special Collections department on the basement and first floors of the Library. In addition to the challenge of managing a preservation environment in the basement and an appropriate work/research environment on the first floor, the team discovered that, as the basement level had been renovated, additional spaces had been added to the RBSC air handler – without the knowledge of RBSC or Preservation. Speakers will describe the solutions implemented to alleviate initial preservation and energy concerns, as well as future plans to maintain a sustainable preservation environment for rare and special collections. Finally, equally as important as the preservation activities, the talk will discuss the difficulties and opportunities presented by working with an interdisciplinary team, from initial relationships and reactions, to the growth in communications and trust, to the present, where preservation advocacy is embraced by the entire team in their variety of roles. The success in building relationships has been so significant, that, to quote one team member – “Honestly, I don't recognize the context I'm working in as far as all of this goes.” It is our hope that this case study will help to change the playing field – so to speak – for other institutions as it as for Notre Dame.

4.1 Neurons to the Task: How to Balance Resources with Ingenuity in Innovation

Speaker: Christine Perrier, Technical Conservator, Laboratory of Archeology, National Centre for Conservation and Restoration

4.2 Abstract

Innovation is the introduction of something new. It is usually referred to as a new method, or device; a novelty. In conservation and restoration, we often link innovation with science and technology. However, this definition may not always be the appropriate one for many conservators around the globe. Innovation often means managing to find the safest approach to an ideal concept within a very tight budget. Concessions are part of daily decisions and it is a great challenge to be faithful to conservation standards. As a Canadian living and working in South America, I came to realize that, although money brings new dimensions to innovation, ingenuity and versatility are essential key factors to conservation. At the Archaeology Laboratory of the National Centre for Conservation and Restoration (CNCR) in Chile juggling with cost, restrictions, and quality is commonplace. The Centre is government funded. Budget varies from year to year (mainly based on annual growth and inflation). It is not a large sum so great ideas have to come at low cost and priorities have to be made. In addition, the CNCR fixes the guidelines for public institutions nationwide where economical and human resources are very limited. This means it is imperative to think in terms of accessibility, reproducibility, and very reasonable cost when proposing a methodology or a design. So, imagination, resourcefulness and reflection must be present in all levels of decisions. Part of creating something better is to change the way we look at things or address a problem. Quantities of pre-Columbian textile fragmentary have accumulated in storage rooms of national institutions for decades. Safer conditions for their manipulation were implemented by means of a simple support. It could finally give access to invaluable information that can be used in future investigations. Homemade components always add a plus to the balance: budgets can be expanded and possibilities widen. Here are a few examples of ingenuity that benefitted from recycling material, converting equipment (so it can do the desired task) or using simple material to create what was needed: * natural fabric is dyed and sewn to make soft tridimensional supports and reinforcement for intervention, storage or display * pieces of Ethafoam are minced and recycled in sealed polyethylene bags for cushioning in the storage of pottery * a standard vacuum cleaner is modified into a micro aspiration device fitted for removal of particles on fragile garments * a sophisticated casing for the transport and storage of mummified bodies is made out of Ethafoam, cardboard, Tyvex, muslin and a clever vent system. Inventiveness may be a better word. Nonetheless, it emerges from the challenge of finding a way to make it work, to create something better that is efficient and respectful in terms of conservation and budget. And it is reality.

5.1 Students for Sustainability in Conservation

Speaker: Caitlin Southwich, Student, MA Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, University of Amsterdam

5.2 Abstract

Sustainability in conservation is an emerging area of concern and importance. The main focus has been on larger scale issues, such as climate control in museums, packaging/shipping, storage and lighting. Conservators individually should also be aware of smaller scale initiatives to be more green in daily practice. In order to enhance the role of sustainability in everyday conservation, it is necessary to begin incorporating eco-friendly practices into education and training programs. Doing so ensures that future generations of conservators think sustainably. In order to promote sustainability at the student level, I have started an initiative to bring the international community of students together and show how they can make a difference. SSiC, Students for Sustainability in Conservation, is an international platform for students, educators and professionals in the field to come together and share their ideas, questions and innovations regarding sustainability in conservation. SSiC presents initiatives that are easy to implement in any lab or studio, and also provides the opportunity for individuals to share their projects. SSiC promotes the concept that little changes make a huge difference. By spreading awareness, SSiC hopes to inspire the conservators of the future to a more sustainable direction. SSiC highlights key areas in which conservators can reduce waste and become more sustainable, and particularly how students can become involved and impact the future of conservation. SSiC showcases initiatives that are easy to implement in any studio. The RightCycle Program is one such program, which is currently undergoing a trial run at the University of Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. The use of disposable gloves is a huge source of waste in conservation. Gloves are a major contributor to landfill waste and pollution from incineration. The RightCycle program can help reduce the amount of waste produced from using disposable gloves. RightCycle is a recycling program for non-hazardous disposable nitrile gloves and is easy to implement and use. RightCycle* is a propriety program from Kimberly-Clark Professional. Disposable nitrile gloves cannot be recycled through normal plastic recycling due to their composition. The newly developed program breaks down used gloves into powder using cryogenic processes to make new eco-friendly consumer products, such as patio furniture but also construction material like panels. The program is simple to use: after the gloves are used they are simply disposed of into the recycling box instead of the trash can. When the box is full, the gloves are picked up. The one stipulation for the program is that only Kimberly-Clark Professional gloves are eligible for recycling. Kimberly-Clark Professional offers a range of high quality gloves under the KIMTECH* brand for the program that meet the various standards and needs of the conservator. Programs like RightCycle are easy ways for conservation labs to become more sustainable. SSiC provides awareness about these kinds of programs and initiatives and information about how to set them up in your studio. The aim is to promote an international, unified effort to bring sustainability to the foreground.

6.1 Fast, Cheap and Sustainable: 3-D Printing Exhibition Book Cradles

Speakers: Fletcher Durant, Preservation Librarian, University of Florida Libraries; Lourdes Santamaria-Wheeler, Exhibits Coordinator, University of Florida George A Smathers Libraries

6.2 Abstract

3-D printers and Makerspaces are a growing presence in libraries. While frequently marketed as a service to students and community members, 3-D printers [also referred to as Rapid Prototyping (RP) or FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)] can be used by conservators and exhibition designers to produce affordable custom book mounts from stable, recyclable polymers. The University of Florida’s Smathers Libraries are experimenting with printing custom mounts for temporary exhibitions. Rather than purchasing generic, expensive plexi mounts, they are designed in-house, using freely available Computer-Aided Design and Drawing (CAD) software to fit unique openings of selected volumes. The mounts are printed in house on one of the Libraries’ FFF printers using commercially available polymers.

This presentation will explore the Smathers Libraries’ process for designing mounts, selecting polymers, printing process, and cost analysis, from the point of view of the conservator, exhibit designer, and university librarian. The presenters will also discuss issues with and limitations to the current procedures, including the possibility of recycling the mounts following exhibition into reusable filament.

7.1 Tips Session

Speakers: Sustainability Committee Members.

7.2 Abstract

The Committee on Sustainable Conservation Practices (CSCP) is a tips session on sustainable practices.