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Friday, May 30 • 3:10pm - 3:30pm
(Engaging Communities in Collection Care Session) Teaching preventive conservation: preparing conservators for understanding sustainable choices in collection care

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While conservators of art and archaeology are traditionally charged with the examination, material analysis, preservation, and treatment of cultural and artistic heritage, today they must also be prepared to engage with specialists in other disciplines on sustainable solutions for a wide variety of situations ranging from energy usage in built museums to preserving historic houses to managing archaeological sites. In order to succeed, conservators must be thoroughly versed in the concepts and practices of conservation, but also be able to understand the complex context of interdisciplinary decision making.

Since 1960, the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts (IFA-CC), New York University, has prepared students for careers in conservation through a four-year graduate program. Preventive conservation has been identified as an essential professional competency and has become an important focus of all graduate programs in art conservation in the US (Defining the Conservator: Essential Competencies, ratified by the American Institute of Conservation (AIC) Board on May 20, 2003). At the IFA-CC, preventive conservation emphasizes environmental management for storage and display conditions, monitoring the environment, prioritizing preservation needs in large collections, and risk assessment. To balance theory and practice, there is a class project on refurbishing show cases focusing on current and new techniques for evaluating leakage, controlling microclimates, controlling pollutants and energy-efficient lighting such as LEDs.

Teaching preventive conservation cannot be based on a one-dimensional approach. It requires an understanding of a multitude of intersecting disciplines. In addition to the traditional role of recommending safe environmental parameters for collections, today's conservator must work even more closely with facilities managers, engineers, registrars, and architects on establishing conditions that are sustainable in terms of energy and preservation. New lighting technologies require a close collaboration with the exhibition and lighting team. New methods for evaluating and implementing microclimates rely on an understanding of leakage testing and proper use of active and passive RH control systems, an area of expertise that primarily falls within the responsibilities of the conservator. The challenge for training in preventive conservation is to familiarize students with both the decision making process and the application of technical tools to meet these complex demands for selecting sustainable choices in collection care.

Session Moderator(s)
avatar for Margaret Holben Ellis

Margaret Holben Ellis

Eugene Thaw Professor of Paper Conservation; Director, Thaw Conservation Center, NYU Institute of Fine Arts; Morgan Library & Museum
Margaret Holben Ellis received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Barnard College, Columbia University (1975) and completed her Master’s Degree in Art History and Advanced Certificate in Conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (1979). In 1977 she joined the Paper Conservation staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she remained full-time until 1987 when she was appointed Sherman Fairchild... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Joelle D. J. Wickens

Dr. Joelle D. J. Wickens

Conservator, Preventive Team Head and University of Delaware Affiliated Assistant Professor, Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware
Joelle Wickens is Conservator and Preventive Team Head at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate and a University of Delaware Affiliated Assistant Professor in Art Conservation for the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. She gained an MA (Distinction) in textile conservation from the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton, Winchester, UK in 2003. In 2008 she was awarded at PhD from the same institution... Read More →


Hannelore Roemich

Professor of Conservation Science, NYU Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center
Dr. Hannelore Roemich (PhD in Chemistry 1987, University in Heidelberg, Germany; Diploma in Chemistry 1984, University Dortmund, Germany) is Professor of Conservation Science to the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (NYU) since January 2007. Dr. Roemich offers instruction in the core program at NYU, teaching Preventive Conservation and Materials of Art and Archaeology II. She also offers advanced conservation science courses, such as... Read More →

Steven Weintraub

Principal, Art Preservation Services, Inc.
Steven Weintraub (MA in Art History 1975, Certificate in Conservation 1976, NYU; BA, Colgate University) is Institute Lecturer at the Conservation Center (NYU), where he offers instruction in the Preventive Conservation course with Dr. Hannelore Roemich. Trained as an objects conservator, Mr. Weintraub is now in private practice specializing in the consultation, research and product development for the museum environment. He also lectures in... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 3:10pm - 3:30pm
Grand Ballroom B-C

Attendees (135)