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Oc logo.gif Objects Specialty Group Conservation Wiki

Welcome to the Objects section of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) Conservation Catalog Wiki site, compiled by members of the AIC Objects Specialty Group.

  • The Objects Specialty Group (OSG) was organized to support professional development of art conservators specializing in three-dimensional art and artifacts. OSG members treat a broad range of artifacts including archaeological and ethnographic objects, decorative arts, sculpture, contemporary art, and historic collections. The 600+ members include conservators employed at museums, private practices, regional centers, universities, and training programs.
  • The goal of the OSG Conservation Catalog Wiki is to provide information on the broad range of materials and topics encountered in the conservation of objects. The wiki will reflect the exciting variety of techniques, treatments, and approaches currently being used by objects conservators-- so if you're a practicing objects conservator, this is the place to talk about the particulars of the profession. To use this wiki you can either browse the headings below or you can type your topic directly into the search box at the left of the screen to find a page.
  • This wiki is currently under construction and all pages should be considered drafts. The Objects Conservation Catalog is an ongoing process rather than an end product. Consider getting involved and sharing your expertise in your favorite subject whether it's materials, techniques, philosophy, or style. Here is how to contribute, including information on getting started.
  • The Objects Conservation Catalog wiki pages are published for members of the OSG. Publication in the catalog does not endorse, approve, or recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described. Individual conservators are solely responsible for determining the necessity, safety, and adequacy of a treatment for a particular object and must understand the effect of their treatment. This information is intended to be used by conservators, museum professionals, and members of the public for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute for the consultation of a trained conservator. To find a conservator, please visit AIC's Find a Conservator page.

Objects Specialty Group Conservation Catalog

What is Objects Conservation?[edit | edit source]

Objects Conservation is the term commonly used to refer to the conservation of three-dimensional artifacts and works of art. The knowledge and skills required for this work overlap heavily with other conservation specialties, necessarily including experience with many of the same materials (such as paper and paint) with the addition of others such as ceramics, glass, and metal. The distinction between this conservation specialty and others was historically based on the traditional divisions in fine arts (e.g. sculpture, as opposed to painting or drawing). As the discipline has expanded, the role of object conservators has come to embrace many areas outside of fine arts. Some are listed below, and some, such as Wooden Artifacts, form distinct specialty groups within the American Institute for Conservation and Historic Works (AIC). Objects conservators may be members of several groups, and frequently must collaborate with other specialists, to meet the broad demands of the profession.

Objects Conservation Specialties[edit | edit source]

Archaeological Objects[edit | edit source]
Ethnographic Objects[edit | edit source]
Horological Conservation[edit | edit source]
Musical Instruments[edit | edit source]
Outdoor Sculpture[edit | edit source]

Conservation Practices[edit | edit source]

Objects conservation projects can be as varied as the routine maintenance of an outdoor bronze sculpture, the repair of a broken porcelain plate, cleaning a tarnished silver candlestick, testing a Native American shirt for arsenic (historically used as a pesticide on organic collections), or investigating the authenticity of a stone sculpture from Asia. However, in accordance with the AIC code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, every conservation project should include the following steps: request by the owner, examination by the conservator, proposal, approval, treatment or analysis, and documentation. Each project includes a collaboration between the conservator and the owner to understand and address the needs of the object and the demands placed on it. Treatments require a thorough knowledge of the chemical principles behind cleaning or other irreversible steps, as well as an understanding of the long-term behavior of treatment materials such as adhesives, fills and coatings.

Object Materials and Types[edit | edit source]

This section aims to unite articles that discuss conservation techniques of the various materials and object types encountered by objects conservators. Articles found here focus on the details of conservation care, but also seek to provide basic information and references on materials and technology. When you begin adding content to a new page or editing an existing page in this section, it is recommended that you use the Object Materials and Types Template created specifically for the Objects Conservation Catalog wiki.

Characterizing and understanding of materials is fundamental to the practice of conservation. Before undertaking passive or active intervention with a work of art or artifact, a conservator must identify the media to know how the object will age, deteriorate, and respond to treatment. Conservators organize materials into groups that share similar material or structural characteristics, and/or have conservation issues in common. Three-dimensional objects are typically divided into two fundamental chemical categories: organic and inorganic materials. However, many objects are constructed from a composite of these material types, and some materials themselves, such as bone and ivory, have both organic and inorganic components. Therefore, the contents of the following section are presented in alphabetical order.

Basketry[edit | edit source]

Ceramics[edit | edit source]

Feathers[edit | edit source]

Glass[edit | edit source]

Horn[edit | edit source]

Ivory[edit | edit source]

Ivory Laws and Regulations[edit | edit source]

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)Ivory Laws & Regulations[edit | edit source]

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)Background[edit | edit source]

The dramatic intersection of the ivory trade with elephant conservation efforts has resulted in an international consensus for ivory regulation, beginning in the 1970s and continuing to the present day. In 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) became the only global treaty to ensure that international trade in plants and animals does not threaten elephants’ survival in the wild. Regulation aims to protect both African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephant species and sub-species. CITES provides a framework for cooperation and collaboration among nations to prevent decline in wild populations and plants. Currently 180 countries, including the U.S., implement CITES regulations. Although legally binding on the parties (countries that have voluntarily agreed to be bound by the convention), CITES regulations do not take the place of national laws. The CITES Ivory Control System focuses on ivory trade.

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT) Recent Laws & Regulations[edit | edit source]

With a crisis of possible extinction of African elephants in the next decade or two (according to the Africa Elephant Summit held in April 2015 in Kasane, Botswana), in 2013 and 2014, the U.S. and other nations have stepped up laws and regulations to combat the rise in trafficking of ivory, including trade of ivory works and artifacts.

  • In 2013, while visiting Tanzania, President Obama issued Director’s Order 210 prohibiting the commercial trade of African elephant ivory and on the import, export and sale of items made from other protected species. Executive orders engage the entire U.S. government, including the Department of Defense and all federal agencies. However, federal laws cannot stop ivory from being sold within a state’s borders.
  • The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, convened February 13, 2014, in London to discuss key actions to eliminate the illegal wildlife trade.
  • In 2014, the United States, the second largest market in the world (after China), strengthened sanctions on importing African ivory, including antique ivory (older than 100 years).
  • In February 2014, the U.S. Interior Department Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it would ban the trade in African elephant ivory within the U.S. by prohibiting all commercial imports and exports of raw and worked ivory, regardless of age and to include re-sales by auction houses and other art dealers.
  • Since February 2014, 12 individual U.S. states – California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont – have introduced bills to comply with new FWS regulations to ban the commerce of African ivory. New Jersey and New York have been the most assertive states and have already implemented state laws prohibiting elephant ivory commerce. For more information about bills and laws in individual states, see: Wildlife Conservation Society State Bills

The reasons for the increased restrictions in 2014, as explained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, are the fact that the U.S. is the second largest ivory market in the world and that the legal transit of documented ivories frequently provides a cover for illegal transit and trafficking of illegally obtained ivory.

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)Impact of 2014 Regulations on Museums and Collectors[edit | edit source]

The new regulations:

1. Render transit of artifacts more complicated since different ivory products have differing legal requirements because laws differ across state, national and international boundaries. (For example, CITES and ESA protections differ for African and Asian elephants.)

2. Now impact legal antique and ancient worked ivory artifacts, which previously held exception status. Consequently, stricter transit requirements have created the need for species identification and for age documentation, including for ancient worked ivories of known provenance.

3. Complicate considerations for composite artifacts, some containing small pieces of ivory that is difficult to accurately identify or date. (A so-called "de minimus" exemption to the laws has been proposed for small ivory components of objects.)

4. Complicate considerations for legal ivory artifacts that may have undocumentable ivory repairs.

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Provide Guidance for Ivory Stewardship[edit | edit source]

The USFWS agency has compiled a useful table and informative list of questions and answers to guide owners and stewards of African elephant ivory artifacts, (see link below in Online Resources). The table, What Can I Do with My African Elephant Ivory includes the categories “Import”, “Export”, “Sales across State Lines (Interstate Commerce)”, “Sales within a State (Intrastate Commerce)”, “Non-Commercial Movement within U.S.” and “Personal Possession.”

Pertinent information for museums and collectors include the following questions:

1. Can I currently sell elephant ivory products within the United States? African elephant ivory that a seller can demonstrate was lawfully imported prior to January 18, 1990—the date that the African elephant was listed in CITES Appendix I—and ivory imported under a CITES pre-Convention certificate can be sold within the United States (across state lines and within a state). Asian elephant ivory sold in interstate commerce within the United States must meet the strict criteria of the ESA antiques exception. Because the current rules regarding interstate commerce are different for African elephant ivory compared to Asian elephant ivory, a seller must be able to identify the ivory to species. This could be demonstrated using CITES permits or certificates, a qualified appraisal, or documents that detail date and place of manufacture, etc."

2. How can worked African elephant ivory be imported as part of a traveling exhibition? Worked African elephant ivory may be imported as part of a traveling exhibition, such as a museum or art show, provided that the ivory was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976; the worked elephant ivory has not been transferred from one person to another in the pursuit of financial gain or profit after February 25, 2014; the person or group qualifies for a CITES traveling exhibition certificate; and the item containing elephant ivory is accompanied by a valid CITES traveling exhibition certificate or an equivalent CITES document that meets the requirements of CITES Resolution Conf. 16.8. Raw African elephant ivory cannot be imported as part of a traveling exhibition.

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)Existing National Acts[edit | edit source]

Since the 1970s, the national trade of elephant ivory has been highly regulated by a number of acts and laws; these apply to the importation and travel of artifacts across within and across state borders. Sometimes the laws overlap, in which case the stricter law applies.

• The Lacey Act (1900 and Later Amendments): Prohibits trade of wildlife taken in violation of any state or foreign wildlife law or regulation; affects interstate commerce.

• The Endangered Species Act (1973): Designed to prevent the extinction of native and foreign species of wild fauna and flora; lists Asian elephants as “endangered” (in danger of extinction), and African elephants as “threatened” (in danger of becoming endangered). This act prohibits elephant parts and products from being imported into the U.S. except under certain conditions. Artifacts carved of elephant ivory may travel legally if accompanied by documentation proving that their provenance pre-dates this act.

• The African Elephant Conservation Act (1988): Prohibits the import of raw or worked ivory into the U.S. with certain exceptions. This act also established a grant program to fund elephant conservation efforts.

--Stephanie Hornbeck (talk) 16:06, 4 July 2015 (CDT)Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), http://www.cites.org

Wildlife Conservation Society 96 Elephants page, https://www.Elephants96.org

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Ivory Ban Q and A, 2014, http://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html

Lacquer[edit | edit source]

Leather and Skin[edit | edit source]

Metals[edit | edit source]

Iron[edit | edit source]

Mirrors[edit | edit source]

Plant Materials[edit | edit source]

Skeletal Materials[edit | edit source]

Stone[edit | edit source]

Textiles[edit | edit source]

Wood[edit | edit source]

Conservation Tools, Equipment, and Materials[edit | edit source]

Objects Conservation Lab[edit | edit source]

Equipment[edit | edit source]

Materials[edit | edit source]

Adhesives and consolidants
Fill materials
Casting and molding
Protective coatings

Field Kits[edit | edit source]

Mounting and Display[edit | edit source]

Proper support while in transit or on display is a critical element of the long-term preservation and care of an object, and as such falls under the conservator's area of concern. Conservators are also often involved in the testing of the materials used in mountmaking and display, to assess their longevity and stability for use in contact with artworks of various media. For more on the specialized field of Mountmaking, including publication references and information about the Mountmakers Forum, please visit the AIC Mountmaking page.

Magnet Mounts

Contribute to the Objects Wiki[edit | edit source]

Getting Started and Community Guidelines[edit | edit source]

Content and Formatting Guides [edit | edit source]

Basic Objects Template[edit | edit source]

The basic template includes the standard Objects Wiki introductory text and formatting guides, such as the specialty group logo, contributors, copyright information, cautionary text, draft banner, and standardized headers.

Object Materials and Types Template[edit | edit source]

The template for object materials and types is more specific and should be used for articles found in the Objects Wiki section on Object Materials and Types, and can be used as a guide for general pages as well.

Copyright: 2011. The Objects Group Wiki pages are a publication of the Objects Specialty Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. The Objects Group Wiki pages are published for the members of the Objects Specialty Group. Publication does not endorse or recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein.