Monday, July 27, 2009

Minutes 7/16/09 ECPN Call

ECPN Call 07/16/09

Jason Church
Ruth Seyler
Ryan Winfield
Amber Kerr
Ann Simon
Rachel Penniman
Katie Mullen
Karen Pavelka

I Welcome

II. Project Updates

a. Communications

i. Blogging/calendar –
After looking at Google calendaring and 30 Boxes, we’ll go with 30 boxes. It’s easy to add an email to a scheduled event to send out reminders and it can be embedded in the blog. Katie will work on an email calling for posts – like call for papers. Amber will pass it on to her program contents and Katie will post it to the Distlist, the Ning site, the blog and Ryan will send it to the ECPN email list. Rachel, Katie and Jason all have contacts who are already interested in posting and will pass on the message to them. Suggested topics will be included, such as perspectives on one’s specialty, ongoing projects, disaster planning, implementing preventative measures. Guest bloggers (outside AIC) are welcome!

ii. Website search/ connecting to ECPN page
RP pointed out that when searching on the new AIC website for “emerging conservator” ECPN does not show up, but searching on “emerging conservation” does pull up the group. Ryan will add the word “conservator” to the ECPN page to fix this.

b. Outreach

i. Angels Project (CAP Assessment, other contacts)

ii. Site Visit

Ruth is preparing for a site visit to Milwaukee at the end of the month and is working through contacts there to identify a possible site for the 2010 Angels project. Ann is also speaking to contacts in Milwaukee. Ruth will have more information after her site visit!

c. Professional Development/Training

i. News
Amber Kerr is compiling a list of program contacts. There is a delay hearing back from Buffalo, Queens and the Strauss Center because of the summer break. Amber will begin to compile contacts outside of Anagpic and also internationally.
Jerry Podany has asked ECPN members to submit poster for the next IIC meeting in Istanbul. More will be forthcoming about this.

ii. Pre-program Internship Guidance
A brochure is in the works along the lines of “Top 10 things to know about pre-program internships.” It is also suggested that we do the reverse, and ask conservators what they expect from these students going forward. We’ll use the Ning forum to gather initial information from ECPN’ers regarding pre-program and internship experiences, then build a survey based on this to engage the experience of our network. Once this and the changes (see below) to “Find a Conservator” are complete, Amber and Ryan will work on a brochure to send out to undergraduate departments across the country that may have students who are interested in pursuing conservation.

iii. Changes to Find a Conservator
Ryan Winfield is working on changing the “Find a Conservator” tool on the AIC website to allow users to search for conservators who will take pre-program and internship students.

d. Mentoring

i. Matching of mentors and mentees

ii. Online Application Form
Ryan is running into some bugs setting up the online form. While these are being worked out, he will scan the mentee/mentor application forma and email them to Ann and Angie Elliot. There are about 15 total responses so far. We’ll also ask participants going forward if they are willing to blog about the experience.

III. New Business/ Open Discussion

IV. Setting of next call and adjournment
Next call will be August 20, 1 PM. This conflicts with an AIC board meeting, so the call will be held in the absences of Ruth Seyler and Karen Pavelka

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FAIC Online Courses: Summer Stimulus Sale Ends Soon

Attention AIC Members!

Only 1 week remains to take advantage of our Summer Stimulus Sale!

Right now, save 50% on the registration fees for all remaining 2009 FAIC online courses!

The convenience, the new insights, and the on-line community of an FAIC online course will allow you to take your conservation practice to the next level without leaving your home or office.

Register by July 22 and receive the low registration fee of $100 for members ($150 for non-members) for courses such as:

“Mitigating Risks: Contracts and Insurance for Conservators” (July 30-August 26)
“Establishing a Conservation Practice” (July 30-August 26)
“Laboratory Safety for Conservators” (September 10-October 7)
“Marketing for Conservators” (October 22-November 18).

Save gas, time and money and still participate in meaningful professional development.

Simply go to:

Log in as a member to the our website and register for an online course (or two!) before July 22 to take advantage of 50% off registration fees.

Please let me know if you have any further questions about this.


Lisa Avent

Education Manager
Foundation of the American Institute for
Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
1156 15th St. NW, Suite 320
Washington, DC 20005-1714
Phone: 202-661-8069
Fax: 202-452-9328

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Helping other emerging professionals beyond our borders

Recently at the AIC annual meeting in Los Angeles, I had the chance to talk more in depth with Terry Drayman-Weisser, director of conservation and technical research at the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD), about an initiative that she has of late been promoting – the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project (ICHP). Developed under the aegis of the International Relief and Development (IRD) through a grant from the United States Department of State, ICHP is a multi-faceted initiative designed to focus US and international resources and expertise on rebuilding the professional capabilities of Iraq's museum, heritage and archaeology organizations, as well as supporting antiquities preservation and management. IRD is a charitable, non-profit, non-governmental organization that directs assistance in regions of the world that present social, political and technical challenges.

A tangible result of this project will be the creation of the National Training Institute for the Preservation of Iraqi Cultural Heritage in Erbil, Iraq, housing two training programs: a Collections Conservation and Management program, and a Sites, Monuments, and Buildings Preservation program. Cultural partners, including the University of Delaware, Winterthur, the Walters Art Museum, the US National Park Service, and other institutions were selected by the US Department of State to work in consultation with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to develop the programs to meet the short- and long-term preservation needs of Iraqi collections and cultural institutions. Beyond serving the preservation and training needs within Iraq, ICHP will also assist with the re-establishment and expansion of the professional environment within the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad; as well as identify and facilitate opportunities for professional development and capacity building of Iraq's museum and heritage staff. Recently, Jessica S. Johnson, formerly Senior Objects Conservator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, has accepted the position as program director for the Collections Conservation and Management program.

What in my mind is one of the more interesting aspects of this project is that the program is meant to transcend religious and ethnic divides, aiding reconciliation by emphasizing the nation's rich heritage. In order to understand how ICHP intends to do this requires at least a basic understanding of the profound tensions that have existed and remain present in Iraq.

Within the Islamic world, religious practice is divided mainly between two major denominations of Islam – Sunni and Shi’a, with their essential difference being grounded on the legitimacy of the Caliphs as successors to Muhammed.While Sunni sects represent almost 90% of Islam’s adherents worldwide and 97% of Iraq’s population is Muslim, Sunni Muslims are nonetheless a minority group in Iraq - representing only between 32 to 37% of the population. Even more of a minority are Sunni Arab Muslims, who represent only approximately 12 to 15% of the overall population. While a minority group within the religious population, a Sunni Arab controlled state has existed in the area of present-day Iraq since as early as mid-16th century under the Ottoman Empire, acting as a buffer against the influence of a Shi’a Safavid Empire in Iran. This dominance continued after the fall of the Ottoman Empire during the first half of the 20th century under both British rule and the subsequent British-backed Iraqi monarchy, with Sunni Arab Muslims experiencing political and socioeconomic prominence. Under Saddam Hussein and the Iraq-based secular Ba’ath party, Sunni Arab Muslims prospered while Shi’a clergy and Muslims experienced severe repression and marginalization.

Notice before that I made the distinction of Sunni Arab Muslims, which leads into the other major source of tension – ethnic disparity. Beyond religious identity, ethnic identity has functioned as a source for either social unity or discord. The Iraqi population can be described as an Arab majority and a number of smaller minorities, the largest of which are the Kurds. Kurds are ethnically related to ancient Persian cultures (Hurrian and Medes). Some 70% of Kurdish population is Sunni Muslim (even this is misleading as the majority follow a different school from the Arab population), representing between 18 to 20% of the country’s population. During the early part of the 20th century, the ideology of a pan-Arabism, arguing that Arab culture and the history of the Arabs transcended religious and communal ties, became popular in Iraq. This came at the exclusion of non-Arab minorities, such as the Kurds, who had their own nationalistic aspirations. Under Saddam Hussein, the Kurdish population experienced massive repression by his Sunni Arab-oriented government in the name of national unity, including genocidal campaigns and human rights violations.

Now if you are not yet confused, place these ethnic and religious divides into a geographical context. Southern Iraq is predominately comprised of a Shi’a population while the Sunni Arabs are wedged in the center of the country from Baghdad north to the southern portions of Kirkuk and Mosul. Civilian violence in Iraq is centered mainly in central and southern Iraq and can be described as both religiously exclusive (Shi’a-on-Shi’a or Sunni-on-Sunni) and sectarian (Sunni-to-Shi’a or vice versa). Northern Iraq is inhabited mainly by (but not exclusively) a Kurdish population and has undergone peace and development since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Putting all this information into context, the new Institute will be situated in Eril. The city of Erbil (or Arbil) is located in Northern Iraq and also happens to be the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region. Beyond the immediate relative security and stability that this location will provide to the program and its students, the reality is that students will have to struggle with and rise above the inherent tensions already described for a greater goal - protecting and preserving Iraq’s cultural heritage. With the training, these Iraqi students will become the new faces of Iraq’s emerging conservation professionals, collaborating with museums and sites within the country to promote national unity around the preservation of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage as well as engaging the wider international professional community.

As interesting as all this might have been to read, you may ask why am I posting this description in the ECPN blog? As emerging conservation professionals, we have the opportunity to collaborate with and support this initiative in a small but substantial measure. One aspect of the institute’s development is the creation of an on-site conservation library at the institute that will remain a resource to the Iraqi conservation students long after the project’s reins are turned over to its Iraqi partners. At the annual meeting, Terry made a call to conservation professionals to consider donating a book to this library in support of the project and these future conservation professionals. After having the chance to talk to Terry, and afterwards to Jessica Johnson and Vicki Cassman (who is helping to coordinate the library development from the University of Delaware), I believe more and more that this is a real opportunity for emerging conservators here in the US to help emerging professionals across borders (think of it as promoting cultural connections and ties with people of Iraq). While many of us have extremely limited incomes, it has been my experience that we often put something extra aside or make exceptions for buying books and adding to our own libraries. Wouldn’t it be great that when we buy ourselves that book that we also consider buying one for this project as well? It may sound a bit hackneyed but think of the old adage “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for one day; teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” For me, that’s seems to be the effect that a donation of a book can have for this institution.

In the near future, AIC will be publishing on its website an article about the project as well as a link to the books that are still needed for the library’s completion. I strongly encourage you to keep an eye out to learn more information about the project and consider donating. If you would like to make a more immediate donation or just have more questions about the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project, please feel free to contact Jessica for more information at: