Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Room Share for Upcoming AIC Annual Meeting

To help defray some of the costs of the upcoming AIC Annual Meeting in May, it was recently suggested in our ECPN conference call that ECPN members may want to share hotel rooms. I will be collecting names and information of people who would like to participate in the room share. This year accommodations will be at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza (the meeting site), with room rates at $185.00 for a single/double and $210.00 for a triple/quad (maximum 2 people per double room and 4 people per room in a triple/quad).

In order to participate in the room share, you need to be registered for the AIC Annual Meeting (this is in order to receive the AIC Rate). The AIC Rate is valid until April 27, 2009, or until the contracted room block has sold out. The Hyatt's cancellation policy states that on April 1, 2009, the hotel will charge a one-night stay deposit, so all cancellations will need to be received by April 1, 2009 to allow for another AIC Meeting participant to enjoy the room at the AIC Rate. Therefore, if you would like to participate in the room share, please send me your information by February 13, 2009.

I will make every attempt to match people with another ECPN member and according to the specifications that you send. If you are unable to be matched due to the lack of another person with your room specifications, or due to an odd number of people willing to participate, I will let you know as soon as possible, and no later than February 27, 2009.

Please note that by participating in the room share, you understand I am matching potential roommates only. Once a match is found, I will send you and your potential roommate(s) your respective information. If this is not a suitable match to all parties, let me know as soon as possible and before the February 13th deadline.

Once you agree to your match, it will be yours and your roommate's responsibility to make your room reservations and pay for your room. Any reservations that you make will be in accordance with the Hyatt's policies. If you or your roommate(s) decide not to attend the meeting before the February 13th deadline, I will make every attempt to match you with another person. However, this cannot be guaranteed, so it is important that all parties be committed to attending the Annual Meeting!

If you would like to participate, please send the following information to Nicky DeFreece Emery via e-mail.

Your name
Your e-mail address
Your telephone number
Gender (sorry, I will only match same gender)
Preference of double (1 roommate + you) or quad room (3 roommates + you)
Special room needs (ADA accessible room, etc.)
Specific dates you will need a room
If you are currently registered for the AIC Annual Meeting
Best way to contact you during the Annual Meeting

Please send your information to BOTH of the following e-mail addresses: shnicky2@yahoo.com AND shnicky2@gmail.com

Thanks, and see you in LA!

Nicky DeFreece Emery

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays from ECPN!

With the holidays looming and productivity gently declining, I thought that I would take a break from our usual subjects to provide some conservation related diversions.

Because People Have a Need to Glue Things to Other Things

For me, holidays are usually preceded by a stream of questions from friends and family on how to repair their beloved ornaments/keepsakes/doo-dads.  Some objects are worth some quality conservation work, but for many I send my family to www.thistothat.com.  Definitely not archival and certainly not to our highest conservation standards, but when it comes to fixing everyday objects it can be very handy.  And for the same low level of “How do I clean my….?” take a peak at www.HowtoCleanStuff.net .  Some cringe-worthy suggestions (the discussion on cleaning oil paintings is downright hard to read) but there are also some good basic household cleaning tips.

Pocket Conservator

 better yet; in response to all those conservation related questions why not just give your loved one their very own paper conservator?  You can find a make your own conservator at http://www.luzrasante.com/la-conservacion-un-juego-de-ninos (pattern courtesy of the Institut Valencià de Conservació i Restauració de Béns Culturals). 

And what better tools to give your pint-sized paper conservator than Jeff Peachey’s set of miniature bookbinding tools?

(http://jeffpeachey.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/mini-tools.jpg )

They are actually just the right size for your new tiny worker.

A Must Read Conservation Journal

As an Emerging Conservator I try to stay updated on new research and publications but somehow missed this one until it was brought to my attention a few weeks ago. What The Onion does for news, Recent Setbacks in Conservation does for professional conservation research.


For the Visual Thinkers

As many conservators are also visual thinkers, check out the web comic Indexed at http://thisisindexed.com/.  While not directly related to art conservation, Venn diagrams and bar charts were never so funny. 

Beware of the Yellow (Milliput®) Snow

 finally, I leave you with a warning on the use of aged materials.  Last year Laura Brill made this lovely little 2.5” snowman of extra Milliput®.  It was lovingly crafted complete with buttons, top hat, pipe and bamboo skewer arms.  Sadly the Milliput® used was very old and even after a year of curing Frosty is still soft and tacky as well as having turned this ugly shade of yellow.  Further research is required but preliminary study suggests this aged Milliput® would be a poor material for use with artifacts.

From the wintery wonderland of Shelburne Vermont I wish very happy holidays to you and yours!

-Rachel Penniman

Rachel Penniman is currently an Advanced Conservation Intern at the Shelburne Museum, but will be taking a new position in January as objects conservator at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ning Social Network

In addition to this blog and the listserve (aic-emerging@lists.stanford.edu), we are testing out a new social networking tool called Ning.

We have already started at network for the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network, which you can go through the link below:


A few of you are already members. As for the rest of you, please check it out, and let me know how you like it at rwinfield@aic-faic.org

-Ryan Winfield

Conference Call Notes - 12.18.08

Here are the things we discussed during the conference call today:

1) Leadership Structure - we have begun a discussion about a leadership structure the group should take. It should take on similar structure as other AIC committees and task forces: chair, co-chair, secretary, communications liaison. A formal call for nominations will go out in January with an election in February, which will give us enough time to bring in leadership before the 2009 Annual Meeting in May.

2). Winter Happy Hour - We will have our first happy hour in NYC on the evening January 25. This will be in conjunction with some other conservation-related events happening in NYC that weekend. Brooke Young is organizing this event for us. More information on this later. Until then, you can contact her at brookewy1@gmail.com.

3) 2009 Annual Meeting - Roommate Referral Program: We will assist people in finding roommates to help defray the cost of housing during the week of annual meeting. Nicky DeFreece Emery is heading up this effort. For more information, contact her at shnicky2@yahoo.com

4) 2009 Annual Meeting - Angel's Project : Members of the ECPN are going to be heading up this project this year. Amber Kerr-Allison suggested we might work with the Rescue Public Murals program at Heritage Preservation to locate a project site. Molly Gleeson is working with Paul Messier, an AIC Board Member, on this.

5) 2009 Annual Meeting - Poster : There will be a poster at the 2009 Annual Meeting. A conference call will happen in January on this. Laura Brill and Nick Emery are heading this up.

We look forward to hearing from all of you at the next conference call on Thursday, January 15th @ 1:00 PM.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There is an interesting pamphlet from the UK called It's A Material World: Caring for the Public Realm.  It is an interesting read, and free to download. It also discusses conservation training. 

 It's A Material World

Caring For The Public Realm

"What parts of our culture do we value and want to protect? This pamphlet explores the future of heritage conservation, and why to survive it must involve everyone.

The choice of what things to conserve and how to conserve them simultaneously reflects and creates social value. This pamphlet demonstrates the social value of caring for the material world, and highlights the importance of conservation as being integral not only to the culture and heritage sector but also to social well-being.

How things are kept and cared for demonstrates their significance not just as objects, buildings or landscapes, but in terms of how much value we place on them. Conservation sustains and refreshes the values of the past – giving us an understanding of where we have come from – and reflects values for the present and the future.

In addition to providing recommendations for conservators, this pamphlet calls for action from policymakers, cultural professionals and the public as well. All of these groups have an interest in conservation and caring for the material world, and they all have a part to play in connecting conservation to some of the major challenges we face as a society, both in the UK and internationally. Caring for the material world is an essential part of the maintenance of our public realm. It is rooted in the profession of conservation. We need both to protect that profession, and put the values of conservation at the heart of policy thinking."

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements 8
Foreword 9
Prologue 13
Executive summary 15
1 Caring for the material world 21
2 Conservation and its values 27
3 The UK conservation sector 31
4 Conservation under threat 41
5 The current contribution of conservation 51
6 A crisis for conservation education? 59
7 Conservation and the wider world 69
8 Projecting a spectrum of conservation 77
9 Building capital from interest 83
10 Conclusions and recommendations 95
1 Methodology 103
2 Organisations consulted 105
Notes 107
References 117

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mentoring Program Update

Angie Elliott and Anne Simon wanted to update all of you on the progress of the Mentoring Program. We have outlined several goals and discussed ideas with other members of the ECPN and the AIC staff.
  • One of our aims is to be inclusive, recognizing that no two paths are identical when developing a career in conservation.
  • We want this program to foster professional relationships between practicing conservators and those who want to enter into the field.
  • Conservators will be able to share their knowledge with up and coming professionals and create an ongoing dialogue between individuals at different stages in their careers.

At this point we have drafted forms that will be filled out by interested participants of the program. The forms will act as a preliminary guideline to match the needs of the mentee with the experience of the mentor. Sometime this spring, the AIC website will have a place to download those forms. More information about the program, including goals and operation, will also be included on the website. The program will be launched at the AIC Annual Meeting in Los Angeles this May.

As we are still in the early stages, we would greatly appreciate feedback. If you would like to become more involved with the organization of this or other ECPN initiatives, please contact Ryan Winfield at the AIC office or Angie Elliott (angiemelliott@yahoo.com) and Anne Simon (asimon@email.arizona.edu) directly.

Who we are…
  • Anne Simon is in her 3rd year of graduate school at the University of Arizona in the Department of Chemistry with an interest in Conservation Science.
  • Angie Elliott is currently a Kress Fellow at The Walters Art Museum but will begin a new job in January as the Assistant Objects Conservator at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Conference Call Notes - 11.20.08

Here is a synopsis of what came out of the latest conference call:

Possible ECPN projects at the 2009 Annual Meeting:

Photographic conservator Paul Messier pitched two possible projects for the ECPN:

1. The Angel's project for the AIC annual meeting in L.A. They are looking for possible venues for the project, as well as someone to coordinate. Would this be something that the ECPN would be interested in taking over? 

2. Blogging from the Annual Meeting. A couple of people who will post on their experiences from the meeting. Would give coverage to the meeting, and help people feel connected if they are not able to attend. Would also give students who have not yet attended a meeting an idea of what the meeting is like.

Keeping the Blog Active:

Laura proposed that we ask people to sign up for a week where they will provide content to the blog. For the time being, Laura volunteered to be the person who encourages people to post on the blog.  If we do set up an email for the blog through gmail, we can also set up a calendar through the email where the schedule for each week can be posted.  Laura will make sure that something gets posted every week.

Anne will take the first week of December and Chris will take the second week of December. As for content, we are thinking conservation related content that can be original content, an update about what your work for the group is, or point out something interesting in the conservation field.

Karen mentioned that she is interested in hearing how emerging conservators are approaching the field, our philosophies, and challenges we are facing. 

Anne mentioned that she would write a summary of the mentor program, and write a blurb about herself, and possibly Angie with her permission, stating who they are etc. This seems like a great way to balance the personal information and the conservation related content. 

We will also post the write up of the conference call by the Monday after it happens. This could be the responsibility of the person whose week it is, or by anyone who agrees to do it that is on the conference call. Laura will write the one for November, but is happy for someone else to take on the responsibilty for the call in December.

Chris asked if the blog had to be moderated by AIC.  We thought that perhaps we could set up an email that a few selected regular authors would have access to, and be able to approve content. This is thinking that the main reason for moderation is to keep the blog free from spam and to moderate any extremely inappropriate postings, rather than to censor emerging conservators voices. AIC would still have access as an author, but it would not be the only author.

DistList: We are also interested in starting a DistList type list that could be used in conjunction with the blog. This list would be open to members, and would be the place for posting questions and information. This would be sent out once a week. Could highlight recent blog entries. Rachel is willing to handle or work with someone on this project. 

Poster: We talked a little about the poster which was approved by the poster committee. We are thinking that it will mainly focus on the mentor program. (Also perhaps how the group is using internet resources, keep it very 2.0 themed. We will discuss the poster content early next year). There was a question about whether to put the poster in with the rest of the posters, or to place it by the registration desk. Rachel will find out what the room situation is for the posters.  Nicky has formated the abstract, and Angie is our contact person on the poster committee.

Mentor group: The mentor group has a rough draft of the mentor application and will be sending it out to a select group of conservators very soon. Anne will be posting an update on the mentor program on the blog soon. 

Join the next conference call on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 1:00 PM to find out the latest developments on the initiatives above and more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Response to ConsDistList 21:28 post

As most of you have probably read the recent ConsDistList 21:28 post, conservator Chris Augerson wrote a formal letter of opposition to the AIC Certification Plan.  It was well worded and I think pointed out many of the reasons that many conservators oppose certification.  I feel that (at least recently) those who are FOR certification have been getting more notice. 

Jeff Peachey, binder extraordinare, was so inspired by Chris’ post that he started a blog.  So please visit Jeff’s blog and post a comment:   


Let your voice be heard.  Now is an important time, we are close to the final vote. 

Melissa Buschey

Conservation Fellow

Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Monday, November 10, 2008

2009 Bursaries to Attend ICOM Related Conferences Available

Please note that ICOM provides bursaries to its young (under 40 years old) members to attend ICOM and committee conferences, including any ICOM-CC Working Group (joint) conferences. Deadline : 15 March 2009

The criteria and form for 2009 are on the ICOM website under:


Look under:

Support for Young ICOM members participation in International Committee/Regional Alliance meetings

Please do not hesitate to contact the person below if you need any further information about this programme.

Margarida Ascenso
Administration Unit
International Council of Museums (ICOM)
1, rue Miollis
75732 Paris cedex 15 (France)
Ph: (33) 1 47 34 05 00
Fax (33) 1 43 06 78 62
Email: secretariat@icom.museum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Interview with the Certification Implementation Task Force

A big thank you to Amber Kerr Allison, who represents the network as an advisor to the Certification Implementation Task Force (CITF), for coordinating this project.  The results of the interview are below. Please add to the conversation by responding with your comments.


Question 1) Seven years of prior experience is required before a conservator can take the certification exam. What will count towards that experience? Why have an experience requirement at all if an unqualified individual will not be able to earn a passing score? [From Blog]

Answer1) Please note that in response to member concerns, the seven-year requirement has been shortened to six:

  • A cumulative total of 6 years full-time experience in a combination of conservation education, training, and work experience (including pre-program and apprenticeships) is required. At least 3 of these years must be spent working and/or studying in a specialty area (as defined within a material specialty).
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) is required. A waiver process will be established for special situations.
  • AIC membership is required to take the exam. However, a membership application and the required documentation reports can be submitted for approval along with the certification application. Please Note: It is acceptable to require membership for participation in a certification program as long as membership is open to anyone. It is not considered restraint of trade.

There should be both training and experience requirements to sit for the exam, since this is part of setting a standard for those we call certified conservators. Most certification programs set such requirements to qualify to apply. There are always entry requirements and those have to be equal for all parties.

Question 2) How will years of experience be calculated for people working part time? [Anonymous]

Answer 2) The CIPP working group defined full time as “at least 35 hours per week”. It is a straightforward mathematical calculation: i.e., if you worked three days a week (7 hours per day) for one year, that would count as 21/35 (or 3/5) of a year of experience.

Question 3) Shouldn't individuals who sacrifice the time and money to attend graduate school have an advantage in the number of years before they can take the exam from those who didn't dedicate themselves to education? [Amber Kerr-Allison]

Answer 3) A cumulative total of 6 years full-time experience in a combination of conservation education, training, and work experience (including pre-program and apprenticeships) is required. See the response to #1.

Every year of graduate school counts as a year of being a full time student, and thus counts as years toward the required 6. If your year of graduate school was spent in an internship in your specialty, that year would also count as a (concurrent) year toward the stipulation that three of those years be spent in your specialty.

Although some make the argument that formal program training provides a more complete academic background, others argue that the experience gained through hands-on apprenticeship is of equal importance. The CITF requirements acknowledge the value of both academic training and practical experience in meeting the standards to become a certified conservator.


Question 4) What exactly does the test certify a conservator for? [From Blog]

Answer 4) The AIC Certification Program will convey to other conservators and end users of conservation services that the certified conservator can work independently as a competent conservator.

Question 5) How will becoming certified differ from obtaining a degree in conservation? [From Blog]

Answer 5) See above. In addition, certification confirms that the conservator has had experience as well as formal training. Recertification also requires ongoing education.

Question 6) After the test run, what will be the review process to evaluate effectiveness and develop changes? Will these changes be voted on like the initial process was voted on? How long with the initial test be allowed to run before changes are made? [Rachel Penniman]

Answer 6) Once the program is established and running, it will be up to the AIC Certification Commission to periodically evaluate or re-evaluate the program and determine if there is a need for change. While the AIC-CC will operate with a certain amount of autonomy, it will certainly review potential program revisions with the AIC board. Modifications to the program will not go back to members for a vote.


Question 7) I understand having an essay-based exam, which many think is a more accurate way to judge the values and ethics of a conservator, rather than quizzing us on facts in a multiple-choice format. I think the idea of submitting treatment reports is a great idea--true, real world application. But retesting our ethics, values, and methods for approaching case studies every 3 years? Would anything really have changed in our responses? [Claire Walker]

Answer 7) In response to member concerns, certified individuals will need to recertify every five years rather than the three years previously proposed. There is no requirement to re-take the exam in 5 years. The preferred route is based on credits earned for continuing professional education. Re-taking the certification exam would only be done if someone was not willing to invest in continuing professional education.

Question 8) Why take expensive classes and workshops for recertification credit rather than simply taking the certification exam again? [From Blog]

Answer 8) The current option of re-taking the exam for re-certification will be evaluated in the future after the program is underway. It is certainly more professional to invest in continuing education. Not doing so might make it more difficult to pass the exam, because the applicant has not remained current with changes in the field. Re-taking the exam does not give the recertifying applicant any advantage since he/she will be evaluated as if a first-time applicant, including providing recent treatment documentation and accompanying essays.


Question 9) If, as members, we are seeking certification as a means of defining and promoting expertise in our field, how long before we insist that ALL fellows be certified? Otherwise, what would be the incentive for members at this level to become certified? How long before it would be mandatory for Fellows to have certification? [Amber Kerr-Allison]

Answer 9) Setting requirements for membership are the responsibility of the Membership Committee and are outside the purview of the CITF. The membership committee has been assessing the potential impact of the certification program on Professional Associate and Fellow membership categories, and they will make any recommendations for changes to membership categories to the AIC Board following further consideration. The two programs are distinct and the marketing of both will reflect that difference. Note that it would not be fair to add a requirement onto the Fellow category that affects those who are already Fellows, and some established Fellows may certainly decide not to become certified. Also, there will undoubtedly be many certified conservators who make no contributions to the profession as a whole and who never desire to influence the field through service in AIC, and therefore would not apply for Fellow status.

Question 10) Now that AIC is a certifying body, how will this change AIC’s focus? Will it affect any other aspect of AIC as an organization? “For at least the first five years, AIC will administer the program by setting up a Certification Commission that will be responsible for administering the exam.” Is there thought that after the first five years a separate certification organization will be developed (like the European model) or will it stay within AIC? [Rachel Penniman]

Answer 10) AIC’s focus will remain on providing services to its members. Changes in AIC will include increased marketing and outreach both to its members and to end users of conservation services. If it seems useful, additional workshop topics might be added to our repertory in response to the needs of members seeking certification.

At this time, the main reason for creating a Certification Commission is so that the AIC Board cannot unduly influence the decisions of the AIC-CC in regard to fair and equitable administration of the certification process. It would be financially impossible to set the AIC-CC up as a completely independent body at this time (the costs would have to be passed on in the form of substantially higher certification fees). In the future, the CC could become independent; however, it will be up to the AIC-CC and AIC Board to investigate whether there are reasons to change and the impacts of such a change for the program and for AIC. Frankly, given that the program is not designed to be fully self-supporting, it seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Question 11) [Rachel Penniman] You must be a member of AIC to take the exam. If your membership subsequently lapses in the next 3 years, are you still certified? Can you renew your membership only in recertification years or must you maintain membership to maintain certification?

Answer 11) AIC Membership is a requirement to maintain certification. Hardship issues will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Questions from Rachel Penniman

Question 12) “The programs are involved in the process and have been providing bibliographies.” What kind of involvement have they had? Will/have they been asked to help develop questions? Will they adjust their curriculum based on test focus? Will they do anything to specifically prepare their students for the certification exam?

Answer 12) Program faculty have been involved in the certification development process over the years. However, it has long been recommended that the graduate programs not be deeply involved in the certification development process because it was felt that they would bias the exam towards their curricula. Members of graduate program faculty, as PAs or Fellows, may help develop the exams, but the programs have very strongly implied that that would be the limit of participation. They do not wish to bear the burden of exam development. Whether curricula change in the future will be up to the programs. They do periodic curricula evaluations and make changes as they deem necessary. It would be difficult to imagine a graduate program “teaching to an exam.” The proposed certification exam has been described as being in the nature of a comprehensive exam. Comprehensive exams require that candidate demonstrate the ability to synthesize material learned through coursework and/or experience.

Question 13) I see in the FAQs section that there will be a study guide. How about reading lists or practice/example questions?

Answer 13) During the exam development, the need for study aids will be evaluated by the group organizing the development. Reading lists and guides will be considered.

Question 14) For the trial run, could recent graduates/students be included in the initial testing phase to evaluate their preparedness for this exam? This could give the certification committee a better idea of just how knowledgeable and competent students are and help them evaluate what the exam is really testing. If a passing mark is being set based on results of this trial run but only PA and Fellows can take it then theoretically everyone in the trial run should pass the test. Perhaps you should include those who you don’t expect to pass the test as well to help set the bar.

Answer 14) Please see the last bullet below:

Pilot Program

  • Grant funds will be secured to develop the pilot project, part of which is the first administration of the exam.
  • A group of Fellows and Professional Associates eligible to become Fellows (minimum of ten years of experience) will be allowed to apply to take the first exam. They must meet all exam requirements and pay the test fee. The pilot participants must agree to help edit, develop, and validate the test.
  • Sufficient representation from each specialty area will be sought.
  • This group will be trained to serve as reviewers.
  • During the pilot stage, candidates will also serve as reviewers of other candidate’s exams and documentation.
  • An additional small group of less experienced (but otherwise eligible) candidates will be incorporated in the pilot run to ensure test validity.

Question 15) “At least 4 of these years spent working and/or studying in a specialty area (as defined within a material specialty).” Does this mean each specialty will have their own way of defining how your 7 years of experience must be met? So could one definition differ from another? And if you can answer any of the specialty group questions, and the certification exam does not certify you for a single specialty, isn’t it possible to have years of preprogram experience in one specialty, meet the experience requirement for that specialty, answer the questions for that specialty, but then be actively working in a totally different specialty?

Answer 15) Note that the new requirement is 3 years in a specialty area. The CIPP working group, which drafted this recommendation, felt that the majority of conservators work within a defined area of specialty or specialties. Therefore, it was important that the education requirement encompass both broad–based, general conservation knowledge and specific, in-depth knowledge in one’s particular area(s) of specialization. There was concern that an applicant for certification may have spent their required 6 years in general training situations without spending enough time within their area(s) of specialization, producing an applicant with a broad but shallow course of preparation, and insufficient in-depth knowledge to perform as a conservator in their chosen area(s). Therefore, the group included the stipulation that a minimum amount of training be focused in the applicant’s area(s) of specialization to help to insure that the applicant is both well-rounded and focused.

The current recommendation is:

A cumulative total of 6 years full-time experience in a combination of conservation education, training, and work experience (including pre-program and apprenticeships) is required. At least 3 of these years must be spent working and/or studying in a specialty area (as defined within a material specialty).

This is strictly a mathematical calculation, based on the applicant’s self-described area(s) of specialization, and part of the basic requirements to sit for the exam. When applicants are accepted to sit for the exam, they will be able to answer any case studies they wish, and will not be limited to those that directly relate to their aforementioned area of specialization.

Question 16) Questions will be made that address specialty groups. Why? If this is not certifying conservators for a single specialty then shouldn’t the questions be general or core competencies? What does AIC considering as being the “specialties”? Does it just fit with how they’ve structured their specialty group membership? For example, will there be questions focused specifically on conservators in private practice or research and technical studies?

Answer 16) While all conservators have “core knowledge” of general conservation, that knowledge is usually applied through the lens of their particular area(s) of specialization. Therefore, it was felt that certification applicants could best display their knowledge by answering questions from their area(s) of specialization. The specialty groups will be asked to help in developing case study questions which will address core competencies and general conservation knowledge as defined by that specialty. Presently, specialty areas will include the AIC specialty groups, with the exception of CIPP, since it is defined by employment method rather than specialty material. An added area of specialization to be included will be preventive conservation. As the certification program continues over time, more areas of specialization may be incorporated, with specific exam questions, as the field of conservation changes. A certification applicant will be able to choose among all the available exam questions regardless of their area(s) of specialization.

Question 17) I see that there will be an application that must be submitted before sitting for the certification exam. It mentions submitting two documentation reports with this application, what other information will be required for this application? Documentation of experience?

Answer 17) Two documentation reports are now part of the exam and not part of the application process.

The exam will consist of:

  • Two case studies that would require essay answers addressing specified criteria relating to a variety of competencies. Candidates would be able to choose from a number of case studies in each of the specialties represented by AIC Specialty Groups and an additional area for preventive conservation.
  • Two documentation reports must be submitted with the completed exam. Guidelines for the documentation will be supplied to applicants. Documentation should be “depersonalized” by the applicant (instructions will be provided), but should otherwise be a copy of the actual reports. An essay of 800 to 1,000 words must be included with each documentation report that explains the thought process behind actions taken, a discussion of how each documentation report conforms with the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, and any additional information the applicant would like to convey to clarify or expand on any sections.

Question 18) How will certification be described/advertised to non-conservators?

Answer 18) This is very important, and AIC will be developing a campaign focusing on helping the user of conservation services find the most qualified conservators with whom to work. It will emphasize the goals of the AIC Certification Program and the process of becoming a certified conservator and maintaining certification.

Question 19) How will conservators be able to advertise their certification? I think right now, associate conservators cannot advertise their associate membership in AIC. For example, what can a certified conservator (associate, PA or Fellow) put on their business card, resume, or ads for private practice?

Answer 19) Certified conservators could put “Certified Fellow, AIC,” “Certified Professional Member, AIC,” or “Certified Member, AIC” (depending on their membership level) on their business card and promotional material. On their website, they could also link to the AIC website page that describes these categories. Members will be encouraged to advertise their status as certified in the AIC Certification Program.

Question 20) For recertification, how will credits be tracked? Will AIC track them or does the individual conservator need to provide documentation at the time of recertification?

Answer 20) Documentation will need to be provided on a yet to be determined schedule. AIC’s new Web site and databases will help facilitate tracking.

Question 21) What percent of eligible AIC membership do you anticipate will test for certification in the first year, five years, ten years. Ultimately, what percent do you hope to be certified?

Answer 21) See Projected Budgets, to be posted on the website shortly

Answer 22) What ramifications do you anticipate certification will have on hiring and pay of conservators? What effect on certified conservators vs. uncertified conservators?

Answer 22) We do have feedback from end users indicating that they will use certification as a criterion in seeking conservators for government contracts and certification may be used by some museum administrators as a criterion for filling conservation positions. There is no expectation that certification will affect conservation salaries.

Answer 23) What opportunities will AIC membership have for discussion about the certification issue before the vote in September? The AIC website has been updated with information and I see that an article will be published in the newsletter, but I would be very interested in hearing what other people are thinking and what questions they have. I would also be interested to hear what people think about my questions. I guess I’m looking for more of an interactive discussion. Is there any possibility for a distlist/blog/website to be put up devoted to certification discussion before the September vote?

Answer 23) The vote is now scheduled for January/February 2009. Information will be provided and updated as necessary on the website. The task force has used the FAQ section of the certification webpage to address repeated questions and this will be updated periodically to reflect any new comments that should be addressed. Regretfully, we do not have the resources needed to monitor and respond to a stream of comments and questions on a blog or on the distlist. More interactive discussions did take place on many specialty group listservs and will probably continue.

Question 24) From the FAQs. “We have heard a lot about the benefits of certification . . . what are downsides of this process?:
Certification is a powerful tool to boost the image of a profession and can be an important way to distinguish between qualified and untested professionals within a field. However, any profession considering certification needs to be unified and have an agreed upon set of guidelines that all professional practitioners have agreed to follow. Certification is not a quick fix, but rather a long-term process of a profession further defining itself.”

I would feel more comfortable voting on certification if there were a fuller discussion of the possible downsides or negative side effects. While I appreciate how it can benefit us as a field, I haven’t heard enough discussion of the possible negative aspects and most importantly how they can be dealt with.

Answer 24) There has been discussion about possible downsides to certification on the CIPP listserv over the years. The main thrust of it has been over the question of increased liability and vulnerability to lawsuits. These questions were first raised early in the development phase and were addressed by Samuel Y. Harris during the Issues Session in Dallas during the 2001 Annual Meeting, and were repeated in the AIC News, July 2002 (go to the AIC website on certification for this and other articles). Harris’ position was/is “that liability exposure is not a function of certification.” He goes on to explain a conservator’s risk of lawsuit is more directly related to the degree of risk in a given project, and the value of a piece being treated. He also stressed that conservators would be better served with thorough standardized contracts than added insurance against negligence, which can actually attract lawsuits because of the perceived deep pockets insurance implies. After consulting with several attorneys Harris writes, “The consensus is that conservators are more likely to be exposed to claims of breach of contract (for which insurance is not available) than to claims of negligence, for which, ironically, insurance is theoretically available.”

It has been explained in conversation that no contract will keep one out of court, but it will provide protection once you are there. Certification should provide the same kind of protection should one be sued over the outcome of a treatment, because if a certified conservator can prove that he/she was performing according to the established and recognized standards of the profession, he/she will have a potent defense against charges of negligence or malpractice. The best protection against lawsuits for malpractice or negligence is high performance, but even that won’t protect anyone against a client who can’t accept the reality of a bad situation. In which case, certification will be a better defense than just insurance.

Another potential downside to implementing a certification program is low participation, particularly in the first few years. If participation is lower than projected, the program will become a drain on AIC resources. Low participation will also adversely affect the ultimate success of the program in assisting end users of conservation services, in publicizing conservation to the public, and in providing additional stature to the conservation profession.

Question 25) Also from the FAQs: “Conservators who help write exams – are they then expected to sit their own exam?

Grant funds will be secured to develop the pilot project, part of which is the test run. The first 75 Professional Associates and Fellows, each with a minimum of ten years of experience, who volunteer, will be allowed to apply to take the test run exam, which will be proctored. This group will be trained to serve as reviewers. During the test run, candidates will also serve as reviewers of other candidate’s exams.”

This does not exactly answer the question. Will people who wrote the questions be sitting for the exam and answering their own questions?

Answer 25) The Pilot Program exam takers will not answer questions that they wrote. The test bank created prior to the Pilot Program will be large enough that no one will need to answer their own questions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Invitation

The Winterthur/University of Delaware Program

in Art Conservation (WUDPAC)

welcomes all pre-program candidates


Class of 2011

Pre-Program Portfolio Display

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Winterthur Museum, Rotunda

3:30-5:00 pm - WUDPAC Class of 2011 will share their pre-program

portfolios outside the Gallery Reception Area at Winterthur Museum.

5:00-5:45 pm Gretchen Guidess, second-year Fellow in art

conservation, will present a talk about her 2008 summer work project

at Wendy Jessup and Associates, Inc. Arlington, VA. The talk will be


6:00-7:00 pm - Visitors can tour the conservation laboratories in the

Research Building.

Please RSVP for this event by Friday, September 26, 2008 by emailing

Susan Behrens at behrens@udel.edu

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ways to Connect

After a survey and initial meeting, we are off to a great start. Several people have indicated an interest in getting this group off the ground, and here are some of the things in three key areas that we will be doing over the coming months:

Career Development

1. Begin listing internship/pre-program training opportunities on the new website. Lead: Ryan Winfield (so far)
2. Send out more detailed surveys about the state of the field of conservation. Lead: Daniel Cull
3. Establish a Mentoring Program. Leads: Anne Simon and Angela Elliot


1. Begin organizing networking happy hours. Lead: Brooke Young
2. Create more opportunities for virtual networking. Leads: Nicky Emery and Jason Church
3. Host a business meeting and separate reception at the 2009 Annual Meeting. Leads: Laura Brill and Nicky Emery


1. Update and use the AIC outreach lecture (perhaps create a podcast). Leads: Steven Pickman and Chris Waters
2. Update AIC’s Conservation Training in US brochure/information – need more volunteers!

Consider becoming involved in one of the above initiatives. For more information on how to get involved, either contact the leads listed above directly by looking them up in your AIC Directory or contact Ryan Winfield at the AIC office. Also, you can just drop in on one of our conference calls sometime. See below.

Third Thursday Conference Calls

Third Thursday Conference Calls

The leaders of the network agreed that the group should have regularly scheduled conference calls. It was decided that these would occur every Third Thursday at 1:00 PM Eastern time. To be a part of these calls, please call in using the information below. Mark these dates in your calendars!

Conference Call Info




Dial-in Access Numbers:

800-379-4339 / 781-743-1771

Conference ID: 9992396901


1:00 PM

The latest about on network initiatives


1:00 PM



1:00 PM



1:00 PM


Friday, July 25, 2008

Certification and You

With AIC's new survey it seems emerging conservators everywhere are thinking about, talking about, and coming up with new questions about certification. What do you want to know about certification? What are your concerns and ideas?

We'd like to give the emerging conservator community the opportunity to have these questions answered by a member of the certification committee. Please email your questions and comments to Amber Kerr-Allison at amberkerr@aol.com by August 1st. Please note if you would rather have your questions remain anonymous. We will try to have all your questions answered and post them on the AIC Emerging Leaders blog as soon as possible. Although we will probably not have everything answered before Tuesday's survey deadline, we will certainly get the information to you before the official Certification vote this fall.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some questions we've commonly heard to get you thinking:

· Seven years of prior experience is required before a conservator can take the certification exam. What will count towards that experience? Why have an experience requirement at all?

· What exactly does the test certify a conservator for?

· Why take expensive classes and workshops for recertification credit rather than simply taking the certification exam again?

· How will becoming certified differ from obtaining a degree in conservation?

In addition, we are aware that there are discussions happening on various conservation email listserves. Since not everyone is a part of each of the specialty group conversations, if you are interested in summarizing the discussions that you are privy to, it might benefit the group as a whole. Please email Amber (amberkerr@aol.com) if you would like to summarize recent specialty group or other listserv discussions.

This is an exciting time to be part of the field of conservation and a great opportunity to get involved.

Time for change?

Time for change?

There are some important issues that the conservation field need to deal with, and perhaps this new network is a forum in which this could be achieved. I just want to pick up on one that hasn’t really been mentioned, but is a serious issue.

Pay for newly qualified conservators and Interns (pre and post graduate)

Why is the pay so low?

I think a lot of the issues have been discussed already in an excellent article entitled “the salary conundrum” it is also worth reading many of the comments as well:


However, one additional reason that I can think of is the use of unpaid pre-program interns throughout the museum world, including conservation. Unpaid interns are a means of museums getting the work they need doing for free (based on the need of interns to get experience to get into school). If this free labor was not available the museums alternatives would be two fold, firstly to not do the work (but this would of course lessen their chance of receiving the all important donor’s money) or two to pay for the work to be done…. Our preferred option of course, as it would give museum professionals a job and also look after our collective heritage. This situation is of course not the fault of the interns, but, it is the fault of the museums, and the university courses that demand experience. So I question whether this issue could be resolved as well, paying interns would be a start, and lessening the amount of time conservators need to be interns would also help as this would in theory lessen the amount of interns a museum would have freeing up work for newly qualified professionals.

What to do?

I would suggest that AIC as the body that represents the profession in the US, needs to follow the lead of professional bodies the world over and demand for its members acceptable pay and conditions. For example, the Institute for Conservation (ICON) in the UK has the following to say: (for dollar amounts essentially double the figure)

“Icon seeks to foster recognition of the responsibility held by conservators in protecting and preserving the world's cultural heritage. The high-level skills required for this vital role should be recognised in status and salary levels. We recommend that the minimum salary for conservators should be £20,895 and conservation technicians should be £17,000. We also recommend that the stipend (not salary) for interns undertaking workbased learning be £14,000.”

They go on to say:

"Starting salaries and career progression for conservators employed in institutions should be no lower or more restricted than for those alongside whom they work. Icon supports the principle of parity across the heritage professions”

It is important to note that these figures aren’t just pie in the sky dreams; they have translated into actual practice:

“For the guidance of employers seeking to determine appropriate salaries for conservators, we provide the following average figures based on a study of all conservation jobs advertised with Icon in 2007:

  • Newly qualified conservator - average - £21,115
  • Qualification and some experience required - average - £23,443
  • Professional Accreditation (PACR) or considerable experience required - average £27,351
  • Senior/management roles - average - £36,971”

It seems to me that these bracketed suggested pay grades could quite easily be a part of AIC policy, and I see no reason that the Emerging network could not lobby for such a situation. There would need to be research undertaken to establish exactly what those grade boundaries should/could be.

I personally think these are much more serious issues than whether AIC introduces a certification procedure. There are already little financial rewards for qualifying as a conservator, without solving this issue first I would question whether certification might simply be adding a new barrier to emerging professionals?

I would hope to see the network take a lead on this issue, and to develop a strategy to take to AIC to come up with a means of solving these issues. We as professionals should also consider how we can work together outside of AIC to improve our conditions, and also to improve the public and institutional face of conservation, for if people don’t know what it is we do, and why, how can we expect anyone to care if we are underpaid for our training and skills. AIC needs to take on some of these “Union” issues, or alternatively conservators need to form a union. Perhaps both would be ideal!

I’d like to suggest that this network work with the other emerging museum professional organizations that have already begun to work on these issues (both in the US and abroad), and to research and strategize an approach for the conservation profession. Is anyone else tired of expending our time for pocket change; I believe it is clearly time for a change!

These are just some of my initial thoughts on this issue; I’d love to hear the thoughts of others….

Si Se Puede,

Daniel Cull.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Other Emerging Leader Groups

Hey emerging conservators, it's time for you to get to know your peers, to share your work, and to get informed about the larger world of conservation. AIC is actively working to form a group that will serve the needs of emerging conservators. Do you want to have a say? A role? Do you have an opinion about what that this group should become?

Lucky for us, there are already some models to look at. AAM now has an Emerging Museum Professionals Group, and a group of recent graduates in Canada just started the Canadian Association of Emerging Conservators which has just been accepted as an ad hoc committee of the Canadian Association for Conservation. Although their missions and scope are probably different from what this group is likely to become, it is helpful to be able to look at what has, and has, not worked for them.


"The EMP group was started by a handful of AAM's emerging staffers who recognized that people new to the museum field needed a better roadmap for career development and networking. This page isn't about us though. It's about you. Please share your ideas with us and get involved." (taken from the AAM website June 6, 2008, www.aam-us.org/getinvolved/emp/index.cfm)

The EMP group have presences on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and have a Google Discussion Group. AAM/EMP staff created a kit for those interested in planning an event that lays out very clearly the steps needed to have a successful event. Meet-ups have started around the country. In April 2008, there were events in Washington D.C. and New York City. At the annual AAM meeting in April, there were several EMP events, including question and answer sessions with established professionals, and open mic night at a local bookstore.


"The Canadian Association of Emerging Conservators (CAEC-ACRE) has been formed by the six post-graduate interns in the first cycle of the re-instated Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) advanced internship program. Observing the imminent retirement of many veteran CCI staff members, and finding themselves in an ideal situation to form a group, the interns determined to form an association whose main purpose is to address the issue of the 'knowledge gap' in the field, to aid in efficient succession planning and to work to promote the interests of new conservation professionals.

The CAEC is pleased to announce that as of a vote taken on May 6th at the Canadian Association for Conservation (CAC) Board meeting, the CAEC is an official Ad Hoc Committee of the CAC. This status is meant to be temporary, meaning that in a year's time a vote by the CAC membership at large, to be taken at the 2009 Annual General Meeting in Vancouver, will determine whether the CAEC is to become a regular CAC Standing Committee. The intervening year will be an opportunity for both the CAEC and the CAC to test the waters in terms of a working relationship and to begin the task of tackling the issues that are of greatest concern to emerging conservators." (taken from the CAEC website June 6, 2008, http://caecacre.wordpress.com/caec/ )

YMP Blog

There is also a young museum professionals blog that is "dedicated to new museum professionals which is a more open forum. There is a link to the blog on the AAM/EMP website, but it seems to be run through a team of contributors, not through AAM. Some of their recent posts include:

· Museums: A Hot Bed of Liberalism? - Jun 5, 2008

· The Salary Conundrum - May 8, 2008

· Report on the next generation of nonprofit leaders - Mar 6, 2008

If you know any further information about this blog we are interested in hearing!

So Now What?

So now is the time to think about what you as an emerging conservator, or you who were once an emerging conservator, want from this group. Please fill out the survey and keep checking this blog- and leave comments. We anticipate discussions of Certification and other topics to begin popping up soon! In case you have a question you do not want to publicly post, and would like to respond to us as emerging conservators, please email Rachel (Buffalo '07) or Laura (NYU '08) at art.conservation.nation@gmail.com.