6.7 2018 Annual Conference Program

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Conference Theme and General Information

Theme: Material Matters 2018

Date and Location: The 46th Annual AIC Meeting was held in Houston, TX from May 29-June 2, 2018

Synopsis: Papers were solicited that demonstrate the impact of material studies – or studies of materials – on the conservation profession, including the emergence of innovative treatments, new ways of “looking” and “seeing,” shifts in decision-making and desired outcomes, and changes in collection care strategies. Also welcome were explorations of the impact of trending “materiality” studies on related disciplines including archaeology, museum and curatorial fields, and art history among others. Topics include, but are not limited to: cutting-edge imaging and analysis techniques of materials, new materials having conservation applications, revelations about the meaning and significance of materials within an artist’s work, and improved methods of authentication.[1]

Change in Collection Management Strategy with Climate Change Phenomenon in Thar Desert[edit | edit source]

Speaker: Vikram S. Rathore, Deputy Manager, Conservation Center, Mehrangarh Museum, Rajasthan, Jodhpur, India

Abstract[edit | edit source]

In Developing countries, where in general Museums and private art collectors do not have facilities of climate control system for their art heritage collection and keep collection either in storage or in display galleries to face surrounding climate and get acclimatize for years. The Western part of India comes under thousands of miles of Thar Desert and it is dotted with several large and small Museums including Family Museums and Art Heritage galleries with highly valuable and Rare Heritage collection. Dry climatic conditions in this region have been a major advantage for art heritage as it slows down deterioration process and minimizes biological activities, as a result, precious art heritage including sensitive Paper objects survived for so many years even without climate control system. But for last some decades weather in this region is changing very fast and The Thar desert is drifting away from its dry climatic characteristics and becoming wet year by year, raising concern for all walks of life including Art heritage collection. Every year regular increase in Rainfall is pumping excess moisture in air and soil and creating favorable condition for more biological activities and art material deterioration. In this alarming situation of climate change, all respective Museums and Art collectors need to pay attention and go through fresh collection management strategy and fabricate an action plan to cope with this lethal change and save precious heritage for next generation.

Access to Shared Knowledge: Developing a Workflow for Archiving Collaborative Engagement Documentation Data at NMAI’s Conservation Department[edit | edit source]

Speaker: Diana Gabler, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Objects Conservation, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Abstract[edit | edit source]

Collaborative engagements with Native artists and community members give conservators insight into the meaning of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and inform conservation practice. Engagement occurs through consultations, workshops or place based education; the goal is developing long term relationships. Over the past two decades the National Museum of American Indian (NMAI) Conservation Department has held numerous consultations and compiled copious amounts of documentation of the department’s work with Native stakeholders. Documentation includes mostly born digital data: photographs, notes, and transcripts, and digital audio and visual files. While analog references in form of project binders were accessible in NMAI’s conservation library, the associated digital media was held on CD’s and a shared drive – difficult to access and utilize. Evaluating the status of the accompanying documentation materials, it became apparent that although there is extensive documentation, there are no active protocols to systematize and archive collaborative engagement documentation to ensure maintenance, accessibility, and utility for Native scholars, researchers, and the museum. By developing a standardized protocol for the documentation of NMAI’s conservation consultations, new routines for the data capturing process will contribute to a targeted documentation approach that allows for a structured outcome of these events. An MS Excel based finding aid of digital assets and the NMAI’s Collections Information System database (CIS) lay the foundation to locate specific object based information from consultations. Using the Smithsonian’s Digital Assets Management System (DAMS) to archive those assets that are not object based but provide context for collections will grant long-term accessibility and if appropriate, delivery of assets for external use in the future. The workflow developed for this project allows for anyone in the conservation department to document and archive ongoing and future collaborative engagements as part of a routine consultation process. This presentation introduces the workflow for archiving collaborative engagement documentation at NMAI and presents the underlying thought processes and challenges. The goal is to provide a useful model for other institutions engaged in similar collaborative efforts.

A Collaborative Web Platform for Design Green Museum Storage[edit | edit source]

Speaker: Estelle De Bruyn, Brussels, Belgium, Preventive conservation, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA), Brussels, Belgium

Abstract[edit | edit source]

Could the characteristics of small-scale institutions (SSIs) – the necessity of social innovation, the need for cost-effective solutions – help us designing sustainable practices in the preservation field? We compared recent methods for enhancing preservation conditions. Some promote preventive conservation practices (e.g.: RE-ORG), others advocate a transition towards sustainability (e.g.: The Green Museum by Sarah Brophy). The methods were selected for their newness, low price, the existence of case studies and their applicability in the SSIs context. Our aim was to help SSIs professionals to assess their problems of storage in a sustainable way. We created Réserve durable, a collaborative website, to share our analysis. Cornerstone of the museum’s mission, the storage is a place where preservation requirements justify high financial costs and energy consumption. At the same time, cultural institutions worldwide are missing financial, human and time-related resources. SSIs situations are usually even worse . Furthermore, coming EU laws will leave no choice to cultural institutions but to invest in nearly-zero-energy buildings (NZEB) for building or renovating their facilities. Despite the fact that several tools for implementing green practices are available, and despite the advantages that “Going green” could offer them, sustainability is often at the bottom of the SSIs priority list. Thanks to a survey addressed to Belgian SSIs, we defined their characteristics and needs in terms of conservation practices. That lead to the creation of Réserve durable, which compares the above methods in light of the survey results. We propose a reflexive model of SSIs management combining “Going green” and state-of-the-art preservation methods such as RE-ORG.

Digital Collections Storage: Surveying the Landscape[edit | edit source]

Speaker: Ben Fino-Radin, Small Data Industries, Founder, Brooklyn, NY

Abstract[edit | edit source]

2018 finds the field of Time-Based Media Conservation in a key moment of transition and growth. With the 20th anniversary of the EMG having recently past, and the decade old programs of Time-Based Media Conservation at pioneering institutions now at a point of maturity – a new wave of small and medium sized institutions and other art world stakeholders are beginning to come online and address the aspects of institutional growth and evolution that are required in order to properly care for Time-Based Media Art. A significant challenge for these stakeholders – some of which have already been actively collecting for decades – is the establishment of digital collections storage. Art storage is a high-stakes endeavor from a risk perspective, and architecting viable long-term digital storage solutions requires a specialist skillset. Perhaps the most challenging dimension of this new area of stewardship, however, is its long-term financial implications. On the ground, there is a broad spectrum of ways in which art-world stakeholders – institutions, galleries, collectors, artists – are finding the balance between digital preservation best practices, and financially and operationally sustainable solutions. The aim of this paper is to provide a snapshot of where the field stands in 2018 – providing a rigorous and statistics-driven survey of how art-world stakeholders are meeting this new challenge, and where they are in their journey towards digital collections storage.