This event has ended. Visit the official site or create your own event on Sched.
Back To Schedule
Thursday, June 1 • 10:00am - 12:00pm
Socratic Dialogue: High-tech innovation in conservation and collection care - do we need a better high-tech mousetrap?

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Digitalization, advanced analysis techniques, new treatments and new materials, collection mobility, and globalization. The conservation world is dealing with rapid developments, which are affecting how conservation decisions are made and how treatments are being carried out. Conservation has certainly come a long way in the last decades thanks to advances in treatment techniques developed in private and museum practice, and to new developments in conservation science. These advances and innovations will be discussed at the 2017 AIC annual meeting, with its theme "Treatment 2017: Innovation in Conservation and Collection Care.” 

Innovation is fine, but most conferences and the literature are seeing ever increasing numbers of presentations of the latest in so-called high-tech developments and innovations such as atomic force microscopy, computer simulations, cryo-treatments, electrochemical cleaning, laser cleaning, multi-spectral imaging, nano-technology materials, plasma treatment, synchrotron radiation, and virtual retouching. We all look with wide-eyed wonder at what all of these techniques supposedly can do and how they can help in a rapidly changing conservation world. However, many of these techniques are quite expensive and/or out of reach for most private conservators and smaller museums, let alone that we understand how they work.

Do we really need all of this high-tech innovation and what for? Is it all good, ethically and/or technically? What is wrong with low-tech innovation, or sticking with traditional ways of analysis and treatment, which have long been successful? Do we really need a better high-tech mousetrap? These questions are part of a classic debate which still rages between tradition and innovation, practice and academics, low and high-tech, or however one wants to characterize it.

Although there is no clear cut answer to the questions posed, an understanding of the issues and essence behind the questions and debate would certainly help us to determine what advances in analysis and treatment we need, and where we want to go with innovation. A so-called Socratic dialogue is an ideal way for doing this. In the continuing series of such dialogues at AIC annual meetings, a Socratic dialogue will be conducted looking at high-tech innovation in conservation and collection care. A Socratic dialogue is a structured form of dialogue in which all participants actively contribute. The purpose of the dialogue is not to solve the question at hand, that is, do we need all of the high-tech innovation that is being offered, but to investigate each other's experience, opinions and concerns on high-tech innovation, and its value in conservation and collection care. The Socratic method provides a safe, open environment for participants to investigate what the essence behind these issues is, and to understand their own points of view as well as those of others. It provides a solid foundation for thinking about how we deal with new developments in conservation and collection care, and making decisions on their use.

avatar for William Wei

William Wei

Senior Conservation Scientist, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Dr. Wei (1955) is a senior conservation scientist in the Research Department of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE - Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed). He has a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering from Princeton University (1977) and a Ph.D. in materials science... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 10:00am - 12:00pm CDT
Water Tower Concourse Level, West Tower