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Do 20th century Conservation Standards work in the 21st Century? American Institute of Conservation Annual Meeting in Philadelphia May 31- June 2


Conservators from around the country and beyond will gather in Philadelphia to discuss ethical principles and critical thinking in art conservation at the  Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works (AIC).  How do economic, environmental and cultural changes impact conservation decisions? While a number of the sessions will discuss technical issues  —- the how of conservation, a large number will address what is being conserved and why.

Paul Theks Untitled 1966 during conservation at Whitney Museum of American Art
Paul Thek’s ‘Untitled’ (1966) during treatment at the Whitney Museum of American Art photo © Whitney Museum

One question of great current concern to museums everywhere is whether standards for safe temperature and humidity levels have been too narrowly drawn; in light of environmental concerns and rising fuel costs, the answer will have broad implications, especially for loan exhibitions. A session will address the use of microclimates: climate-controlled display cases or selected parts of buildings where conditions can be regulated. The later might be a feasible solution for or historic structures that cannot be brought up to modern environmental standards.

sarah gowen working at shangri la doris duke charitable foundation.960.370.c
Conservation of Doris Duke’s estate, Shangrai La in Hawaii

Among the other papers are: Versions, variations, and variability: ethical considerations in the conservation of computer-based art, When a silk flag is dust and they still want to exhibit it ?, Philosophy regarding the preservation of watercraft with discussion [sic] to cover small boats in storage to large exhibited vessels in the water and in use, Ethical considerations in reproducing furniture for historical house museums, Conserving a space for commemoration: Trinity Cathedral burial ground renewal, and several case studies on the documentation, acquisition and loans of complex media installations.

MoMA conservator working on Demoiselles
Conservator at MoMA using a microscope during treatment of Picasso’s ‘Demoiselles’ photo © MoMA

Area museums, such as the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Museum of Art will host receptions and tours of their conservation facilities, and meeting participants can register for a hard-hat tour of the new Barnes Foundation building.