I’m just returning from the annual meeting of the national professional organization for art conservation: The American Institute for Conservation (AIC). Our profession includes art conservators/restorers, conservation scientists, art history/conservation students and specialized professionals with conservation backgrounds in areas like lighting, exhibits, shipping, research. You’d be surprised at how much art conservation studies contribute to art history. Professionals come from major museums, from historical societies and libraries and from the private sector. Highly esteemed professionals with great skills come from every venue and part of the country.
Perhaps you would also be surprised of all the specializations in professional conservation? The AIC has divisions or “Specialty Groups” that include: Paintings (paint on canvas, murals, panels, paper and on other items), paper and books (subdivided into art on paper and library materials), architectural conservation, textiles, objects (archeological materials, glass, ceramics, stone, leather, and other natural materials), wood and furniture, Scientific Technology/Research. Of course, within those specialties you find lots of sub-specializations and niches that people get into. The important thing that you will want to remember is that no one can know it all… its hard to be an expert, even, in more than one area!
One of the highlights was an exclusive evening reception at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You have to go there! What a place… and a GREAT collection is awaiting you.
AIC asked me to blog/comment about a couple of the talks on the new AIC blog site at http://www.conservators-converse.org. As you can see on this blog, there were some interesting talks about some pretty “complicated” subjects. It was a good conference and I always enjoy reconnecting with associates and friends all around the world.
One of the functions of the organization is to set a standard of ethics and practices that conservation professionals adhere to. This is a major issue when dealing with professionals who will treat your possessions and you with respect. All public conservation contracts (government) require this adherence!