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Friday, May 30 • 2:10pm - 2:30pm
(Engaging Communities in Collection Care Session) Children as Agents for Preventive Conservation

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Placing collection material on exhibit exposes it to a certain amount of risk, and yet presenting cultural heritage to the public is a part of most institutional missions. This dilemma is made more acute by changes in visitor behavior: attendance often involves large school groups, institutions appeal to new audiences (who may be unfamiliar with the fragility and/or value of collections), and our media-rich environment blurs the real and the replica. With patrons appearing to be the cause of an increasing amount of damage to collections, museum professionals search for ways to protect valuable material while maintaining some level of public access.

Traditional avenues towards a solution, such as employing more guards and docents, add to operational expenses in a time of budget constraints. Cases and vitrines can be expensive and may not align with the goals of exhibit designs. Finding a balance between preservation and access is increasingly a matter of finding a balance between resources and conservation goals.

We suggest that institutions look for allies to teach the importance of conservation and the need for public participation to a broader audience. Particular emphasis should be directed towards children, for this strategy pays at least two benefits:
  1. Towards the goal of sustainable collections, early lessons in behavior stick with the individual and help ensure a lifelong advocate for conservation.

  2. Children are effective teachers within the family, extending their understanding of new topics, such as conservation of collections, to parents and siblings.
Children’s programs are a vital part of most museum educational programs. Extending the curriculum to include collection care issues brings the public into a deeper understanding of museums and offers a vein of important information to mine for broad-based public programming.

This presentation explains how children can change a family’s learning and its attitude towards conservation, drawing on studies that show how an understanding of complex issues, including sustainability, can be extended from children to the rest of the family. The process could be used to help protect collections by increasing public understanding of, and sensitivity to, preservation and the limits of museum resources.

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 →

avatar for Jeff Hirsch

Jeff Hirsch

Principal, EwingCole
Jeffrey Hirsch, AIA, LEED AP With over 25 years of experience as an architect, Jeff Hirsch serves as the Director of EwingCole’s Cultural practice. He oversees the design and development of all work and leads the planning of projects that involve large numbers of stakeholders and historic buildings. Jeff’s expertise includes issues related to the museum environment, learning and the preservation of cultural heritage. He brings a... Read More →


Casey Gallagher

Preservation Consultant, Casey Gallagher
Casey Gallagher joined EwingCole’s Philadelphia office in 2007 as an architect with a focus in Planning.  Casey has leveraged her design expertise and knowledge of environmentally sustainable practices to create flexible and high-performing spaces across core EwingCole practices, including Academic, Government, and Cultural sectors.  Casey’s work embodies her passion for understanding how an environment’s design... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 2:10pm - 2:30pm
Grand Ballroom B-C

Attendees (81)