Saturday, April 30, 2011

Working Abroad: Experience of a Canada-based emerging conservator in the U.S.

As a recent graduate of the Master of Art Conservation Program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, I’m currently living the transition between being a student and the ‘real world’. The Program at Queen’s University is a two-year program in which students focus on a particular treatment stream (objects, painting, or paper) from their first day. I learned during my studies that varied work experience is extremely important. So as I neared the Program’s completion, I began a hunt for post-graduate internship and fellowship opportunities that would allow me to further my education in conservation and give me a chance to be involved in a wide range of projects. I was flexible and prepared to travel any distance.

I had several objectives for seeking international experience: 1) on account of my interest in archaeological and ethnographic objects, I wanted to have the chance to work with a range of material culture; 2) I wanted to be exposed to different conservation philosophies; and 3) I wanted to expand my tool box of practical techniques.

Preparations for venturing abroad to gain work experience can be stressful and time-consuming. To be able to complete an internship in the U.S., it was necessary for me (a citizen of the Czech Republic and permanent resident of Canada) to obtain J-1 Research Scholar status. The process consisted of filling out and submitting specific documents, paying SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and visa fees, and attending a pre-booked interview at the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate. In my experience, if one is prepared and has submitted all of the required documents, one should be able to obtain a U.S. visa within a week following the interview.

My time in the U.S. as a summer intern during my studies and currently as a post-graduate intern has been extremely enriching. The experience has without a doubt exceeded my original objectives. Learning about different cultures – their traditions, values, and perspectives – has been invaluable in giving me a better understanding of how to care for objects. One of the greatest lessons that working abroad has taught me is the importance of flexibility; every geographical area provides its own challenges. In addition to many professional benefits, working abroad gives one the chance to see new places, meet new people, try new things, and simply enjoy the adventures that a foreign country has to offer.

Personal tips for preparing for a work experience abroad:

1) When contacting individuals or institutions with whom you’d like to work abroad, don’t be afraid of asking about available opportunities and the possibility for financial assistance. I’ve had the pleasure of finding conservators who had been extremely supportive and helpful beyond guiding me through the paperwork for the internship. Even if you are not offered any additional assistance, never hesitate to ask for information.

2) Regarding visas, I would advise that you review any visa requirements as soon as possible. Once you’ve made an agreement with the host institution, it’s important to start completing the paperwork immediately as the documents have to be processed and approved by a number of individuals at the host institution. You should also obtain the visa a good time in advance before your scheduled departure. This will ensure that if any unexpected set-backs should occur – for example, if it becomes necessary to provide additional documents – that there will be sufficient time to take care of the matter. I’ve learned that an invitation letter from the host institution is a vital document.

3) I’ve found it extremely helpful to get in touch with other students, who are travelling to the same institution to complete internships or other requirements, prior to departure.

Happy travels!

Ida Pohoriljakova

Post-Graduate Intern, Arizona State Museum

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogging at the AIC Annual Meeting

AIC is continually striving to expand access to the stimulating and important content that is presented at our annual meeting. Last year, at the 2010 meeting, we initiated two new "firsts": we had members blogging about talks and workshops and we hosted all available poster presentations online. We received a lot of feedback that this extra information was extremely useful to those who were unable to attend, as well as those who were there, but unable to see everything that they had hoped. We are planning on continuing these services again this year in Philadelphia but we need your help!

If you are attending the upcoming AIC annual meeting in Philadelphia I hope that you will volunteer to blog from the conference on AIC’s soon to be newly relaunched blog. You need not be an experienced blogger nor particularly tech savvy. The Wordpress blog format is extremely easy to use and any necessary hand-holding will happily be provided to make you feel comfortable online. There also is no pressure to be particularly witty. Although active tense, first-person and personal style are all encouraged in blog posts (this is a chance to free yourself from the writing constraints of condition reports!), the writing is expected to be more like reporting and professional in tone overall. The goal is for readers to learn more about the talk than they would gain from the abstract. Additional guidelines and training will be provided for all volunteers.

I am looking for 2-4 people for each specialty group session and general session and 1-2 people per workshop. If you will be attending one of the conference tours we’d love to hear from you too.

Last year our blog saw a huge increase in traffic due to annual meeting posts. We know that many colleagues are looking forward to hearing more about the conference and hope that some of you will volunteer, share your thoughts from the meeting, and take the opportunity to become more comfortable with some of the social networking tools of our present and future! If you are interested in volunteering or hearing more, please contact me off list using the information below.

Thank you,


AIC e-Editor

Rachael Perkins Arenstein

A.M. Art Conservation, LLC

Art Conservation, Preservation & Collection Management

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Virginia Conservation Association

Current President, Frederick Wallace, along with Vice President Heather Logue, share their thoughts on the Virginia Conservation Association:

Colleen Callahan presenting her textile conservation treatments at the March 2010 VCA meeting

    What is the VCA?

The Virginia Conservation Association is a regional conservation organization dedicated to the care and preservation of cultural materials. The VCA was founded in Richmond, Virginia in 1989 by a small group of conservators working in the region who recognized the value of fellowship and professional discourse. Rather than forming a guild expressly for conservators, the association purposely was established to be open to anyone wanting to learn about conservation.

The VCA provides a forum for sharing knowledge and experiences and to discuss issues and new developments relating to the conservation of art and historic artifacts. The VCA offers a variety of programs to disseminate information, provide education and training, and foster interaction among conservators, museum professionals, collectors and other parties involved and interested in conservation. Members meetings are held five times a year at various cultural sites in Virginia. Workshops, field trips and social gatherings also are organized periodically. Membership in the VCA is open to any individual by way of annual dues ($25 regular; $15 student), giving privileges to the programs and materials of the organization. Non-members also can partake in many VCA services and activities, (a fee may be required). The VCA arena of interest primarily is within the state of Virginia; however the organization also includes and serves members from the neighboring states and elsewhere. The membership roster normally numbers over 100 persons.

The VCA website is located at the internet address provided below.

Former VCA president Andrew Baxter discusses the




sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington

at the 2008 VCA

field trip to the Chrysler Museum

of Art, Norfolk.

VCA member Heather Logue is an “emerging conservation professional” who is a conservation technician at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She also is a current applicant for admission to conservation graduate school. Though young to the field, Heather’s enthusiasm for conservation has resulted in her present service as VCA vicepresident. The following is a her personal reflection about the VCA.

In my opinion, what makes VCA special is that we not only meet so often,

but we are based in an area that is so rich in cultural history. I don't think

that many other professional groups have as many opportunities as we do

to get behind the scenes and tour as many conservation sites/labs. Plus we

have so many conservation professionals here that are fortunate enough to

have a forum and to share their projects and what they learned at the meetings.

As a preprogram intern/technician, I feel very fortunate to have heard about

and joined VCA when I did- I have made many friends had many opportunities

for internships just from networking at the meetings.

Thank you Frederick and Heather! For more information, you can also check out the VCA on Facebook at Virginia Conservation Association.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Emerging conservators at ANAGPIC 2011

It’s spring, the season when North American conservation students can get out of the labs and libraries and go present their research at the Association of North American Graduate Programs in the Conservation of Cultural Property (ANAGPIC) student conference.

This year the conference will be hosted by the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) in Wilmington, Delaware. ECPN will continue their tradition of sending a representative to the conference to encourage participation from the students in the committee, who will speak at 12:25PM on Saturday April 16th. This year the Emerging Conservators Committee (ECC), a similar committee for emerging conservators in the Canadian Association for Conservation/Association canadienne pour la conservation et la restauration, will have a poster presented during the poster session on Friday April 15th.

Ryan Winfield, Membership Coordinator on staff at AIC, will be representing the ECPN and will be available to answer questions and give students more information about how they can be more involved in this dynamic committee. Queens student Jennifer Robertson will be presenting the ECC's poster on behalf of the committee, and will be happy to answer questions during the poster session about this unique organization and how to get involved in current projects.

The initial schedule looks great and the lectures should be interesting and informative. We hope everyone enjoys the conference and has a chance to sample the mushroom flatbread at Buckley’s Tavern. Winterthur is very close to the Kennet Square which has a yearly mushroom festival, always a fun(gi) time!