While the Specialty Groups will eventually publish postprints, the General Concurrent Session and Special Interest talks (Collections Care Network, Health & Safety, Sustainability) have no formal publication outlet. I sincerely hope that some of these authors will find other publication venues for their work, since many of them shared extremely valuable insights and information which deserve to be recorded for posterity. Fortunately, not all is lost: thanks to the heroic efforts of AIC e-Editor Rachael Arenstein and her intrepid crew of volunteer bloggers, almost all of the sessions will be summarized and shared in the coming weeks on AIC's Conservators Converse Blog.
These were some of my favorite talks, which I look forward to revisiting as they are reported on at Conservators Converse:
Irene Karsten, "When Disaster Mitigation is a Priority: Evidence from risk analysis of rare events"
- Among other things, Ms. Karsten spoke of balancing loss in collection value per year against the cost of prevention measures per year. Her talk was resplendent with fabulous, easily digestible color-coded charts which I hope she will share.
John Childs, "Preserving Trauma: Treatment challenges at the 9/11 Memorial Museum"
- Mr. Childs' talk delved into some fascinating questions. Who is to say where the boundary between one object and another resides at a site such as the 9/11 Memorial Museum? What does it mean for conservation when the value of the object lies in its damage? When faced with layers of historical events, how do we decide what to preserve and what to erase? And once the decision, in this case, was made, how do we "remove the silt [of Hurricane Sandy] while preserving the soot [of 9/11]?
Book and Paper Group
Debra Mayer, "Challenge of Scale: Delivering high end treatments on a large collection of illuminated manuscripts"
- Few book and paper conservator are privileged to work on medieval manuscripts, but I am so glad I attended this talk anyway. Ms. Mayer's talk focused primarily on how to manage a large-scale treatment project, defining realistic schedules and protocols and providing consistency in treatment across many different players. These lessons transfer well to myriad project scenarios.
Crystal Maitland, "Careful Consideration: Learning to conserve a Kashmiri birch bark manuscript"
- Ms. Maitland's delightfully engaging talk taught me interesting facts about birch bark (only 12% cellulose!) but also transcended the particulars of this one treatment project to question how we expand our limits in an ethical way when faced with the treatment of unusual objects.
Amy Hughes and Michelle Sullivan, "Targeted Cleaning of Works on Paper: Rigid Polysaccharide Gels and Conductivity-Adjusted Aqueous Solutions"
- Ms. Hughes and recent WUDPAC graduate Michelle Sullivan presented a clear and practical talk on recent trends in wet-cleaning paper. Expect to see future publications and workshop offerings from these talented emerging conservators.
Sheila Waters, "Post-1966 Florence Flood Mass Treatments at the National Library: the Roots of Library Conservation"
- I was so mesmerized by this evocative talk by Sheila Waters, widow of Peter Waters, that I completely forgot to take notes, instead losing myself in the narrative. Fortunately, I was able to secure a (signed!) copy of Mrs. Waters' recently published book, Waters Rising: Letters from Florence, which I am now enjoying immensely.
General Concurrent Sessions
Sanchita Balachandran, "Race, Diversity, and Politics in Conservation: Our 21st Century Crisis"
- Ms. Balachandran's talk earned a well-deserved standing ovation, and, in my opinion, sparked the most significant and necessary conversation of the conference. She challenged us by asking difficult and necessary questions, such as: how do we select and support young conservators? Do these choices then privilege some cultural heritage over others? This is a conversation which must stay in the foreground as we continue to grow as a field.
Back home at the bench and in the classroom, I continue to mull over what I learned at #AICCAC and strive to incorporate these practical and ethical lessons into my professional practice -- and I am already looking forward to the AIC 45th Annual Meeting in Chicago in 2017.