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Wednesday, May 31 • 2:55pm - 3:20pm
(Beyond Treatment) In Support of the Bigger Picture: Preventive Conservation as a Recognized Specialty

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In recent decades, preventive conservation has become an increasingly larger and better defined part of every conservator's job. Innovations in environmental monitoring, pest management, archival materials, and overall collections care have enabled conservators to prevent damage or loss of cultural heritage more holistically, more sustainably, more economically, and on a larger scale than ever before. This growing body of knowledge has caused the field to rethink preservation, as preventive conservation action in the present can reduce the amount of interventive treatment needed in the future. This growth has been reflected internationally in both conservation-related education and membership groups. Many training programs in Europe and the U.K. now offer student specialization in preventive conservation, and at least one training program in the U.S. is planning to add it as a specialization soon. Preventive conservation sub-groups exist in the ICOM-CC, ICON, and now AIC with the recent founding of the Collections Care Network. Will we ever acknowledge and respect preventive conservation as its own independent specialty? Preventive conservation is developing as other specialties have historically; most recently, photography and electronic media grew from paper and became their own specific areas of concentration. Some practicing conservators have moved to become consultants focusing on museum environment, storage facilities, exhibition or conservation planning and surveying – yet may or may not already call themselves preventive conservators. Can one still be accepted as a conservation professional, even if they don't do hands-on treatment? At present, the AIC accepts many individuals who do not actively treat objects as conservation professionals, such as scientists, educators, and administrators. But other non-conservators share and engage in critical types of conservation activities, too. Can collection managers, registrars, art handlers, curators, and architects also be included as members of AIC so they can share in the many benefits that professional membership has to offer? Conservation has many parts that enable the whole to function, and all specializations are equally important. Treatment-based activities would not be effective without preventive-based activities, and vice-versa. It is important that conservators support one another in the common goal of preserving art and cultural heritage. This paper will discuss what should define a preventive conservator, the status of preventive conservation in AIC, and the wisdom of including preventive conservation specialization in conservation training programs.

avatar for Elena Torok

Elena Torok

Assistant Objects Conservator, Dallas Museum of Art
Elena Torok is the Assistant Objects Conservator at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), where she works on the treatment, research, and long-term care of the collection. She earned her M.S. from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation in 2013 with concentrations... Read More →

avatar for Meg Loew Craft-[Fellow]

Meg Loew Craft-[Fellow]

Conservator, The Walters Art Museum

Wednesday May 31, 2017 2:55pm - 3:20pm
Regency A-B Ballroom Level, West Tower

Attendees (268)