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Wednesday, May 31 • 9:20am - 9:40am
(Sustainability) Neurons to the task: how to balance resources with ingenuity in innovation

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Innovation is the introduction of something new. It is usually referred to as a new method, or device; a novelty. In conservation and restoration, we often link innovation with science and technology. However, this definition may not always be the appropriate one for many conservators around the globe. Innovation often means managing to find the safest approach to an ideal concept within a very tight budget. Concessions are part of daily decisions and it is a great challenge to be faithful to conservation standards. As a Canadian living and working in South America, I came to realize that, although money brings new dimensions to innovation, ingenuity and versatility are essential key factors to conservation. At the Archaeology Laboratory of the National Centre for Conservation and Restoration (CNCR) in Chile juggling with cost, restrictions, and quality is commonplace. The Centre is government funded. Budget varies from year to year (mainly based on annual growth and inflation). It is not a large sum so great ideas have to come at low cost and priorities have to be made. In addition, the CNCR fixes the guidelines for public institutions nationwide where economical and human resources are very limited. This means it is imperative to think in terms of accessibility, reproducibility, and very reasonable cost when proposing a methodology or a design. So, imagination, resourcefulness and reflection must be present in all levels of decisions. Part of creating something better is to change the way we look at things or address a problem. Quantities of pre-Columbian textile fragmentary have accumulated in storage rooms of national institutions for decades. Safer conditions for their manipulation were implemented by means of a simple support. It could finally give access to invaluable information that can be used in future investigations. Homemade components always add a plus to the balance: budgets can be expanded and possibilities widen. Here are a few examples of ingenuity that benefitted from recycling material, converting equipment (so it can do the desired task) or using simple material to create what was needed: * natural fabric is dyed and sewn to make soft tridimensional supports and reinforcement for intervention, storage or display * pieces of Ethafoam are minced and recycled in sealed polyethylene bags for cushioning in the storage of pottery * a standard vacuum cleaner is modified into a micro aspiration device fitted for removal of particles on fragile garments * a sophisticated casing for the transport and storage of mummified bodies is made out of Ethafoam, cardboard, Tyvex, muslin and a clever vent system. Inventiveness may be a better word. Nonetheless, it emerges from the challenge of finding a way to make it work, to create something better that is efficient and respectful in terms of conservation and budget. And it is reality.

avatar for Christine Perrier

Christine Perrier

Technical conservator, Laboratory of Archaeology, National Centre for Conservation and Restoration
I am a Canadian living aboard since 1994; I resided in Turkey, Peru and now Chile. I started my professional life as a geologist from the University of Montreal. I obtained a Master’s Degree in Geochemistry from the University of Quebec in Montreal on Holocene environments from... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 9:20am - 9:40am CDT
Plaza Ballroom Lobby Level, East Tower