AIC definitions

  • A conservator: Saves our cultural heritage physically. They are unique in…the particular expert hands-on technical and decision-making skills they bring to preserving and caring for and our tangible history; Trains in a graduate conservation program or sometimes a lengthy apprenticeship with more experienced senior colleagues. While they take many paths to becoming a conservator, they all have extensive training in art history, science, studio art, and related fields.
  • Conservation encompasses all those actions taken toward the long-term preservation of cultural heritage.

8 responses to “AIC definitions”

  1. Do you have further thoughts about these definitions?

  2. Marie Desrochers says:

    Thank you so much for starting this discussion and creating a space for it to continue!

  3. Melissa King says:

    Thank you for so eloquently saying what I have felt for a long time. Conservation is work completed by MANY people, and not exclusively by the present “definition” of conservators. Let’s celebrate the important work of everyone involved in this work. This is a crucial discussion, and I look forward to hearing the responses.

  4. Anita Dey (she/her) says:

    What a wonderful way to start off the Annual Meeting. Thank you for the space to create this important and much-needed discussion.

    So many excellent points were brought up today on how our field is imbalanced. Shifting our perspectives from an object-centered practice to holistic collections care takes mindful practice that is often met by rigid institutional structure. I wonder if anyone has any examples of ways to evolve our practices to combat these institutional structures that hinder the advancement of our field?

    Thanks again for your openness and for this wonderful platform!

  5. Natalya Swanson says:

    Thanks for the support, Anita! I’m not sure how to subvert systemic bias embedded into institutional structures, but I have learned that practices coined as “institutional policy” are often dictated by one individual in a position of power. Changing the mind of that individual can result in significant change within an institution. This is both grassroots (in that it requires staff to use their collective voice to push for change) and top-down (as it requires a leader willing to listen and adapt). Looking forward to chatting with you more on this topic!

  6. Natalya Swanson says:

    What do people think about ICOM-CC’s definitions? http://www.icom-cc.org/242/about/terminology-for-conservation/#.YK7b9OspBTY

  7. Becky Fifield says:

    Thank you for creating this discussion space and embarking on/facilitating this much-needed effort. I trained in a Museum Studies setting and have worked closely with graduate program-trained conservators throughout my career. What I think has been the most successful training for me is my development of literacy of the interconnected fields that contribute to preservation. When I hear people seeking multiple Masters degrees to become “more competent” as a conservator, I wonder if that is reasonable (or frankly sustainable, let alone the financial/time barriers for many). Our field needs to invest more in being the interpreters and facilitators. The training that has been the most important to me to improving myself as a facilitator for collection preservation has been continuing education opportunities (like AIC workshops, Getty courses, committee and service work) that help me understand allied fields, and workshops that help me develop managing, visioning, communicating. Recognition (and respect) of the array of professionals that inform the work of cultural heritage preservation centers in our ability to connect.

  8. Julie Reilly says:

    The AIC definitions being discussed, and copied above, were written by AIC staff as copy for the AIC website which was launched without any review process or consensus from the AIC membership as a whole. I would not read too much into them literally. This is not to say that we should not be having important conversations about what a conservator is and one a conservator should be.

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