It’s that time again. With the start of the new year, it’s time to renew your memberships to your local museums and to professional organizations, like the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. I have to be honest and say that I usually don’t become a member of museums since my staff badges allow me to get in for free, but, without hesitation, I always renew my membership to AIC. For students, the annual fee is $65, plus additional fees if you decide to join one or more specialty groups. I understand that $65 is a large amount when you’re paying for tuition, working unpaid internships, etc., but, for roughly $5 each month, you’re getting a lot in return.
The website lists the obvious perks of a membership: free copies of AIC News, the Journal of AIC, and the member directory, the ability to join a specialty group (that sends out emails and post-prints of the meetings), receive discounts for workshops and meetings, and apply for scholarships and grants. In addition, if you’re in your first seven years of conservation, you can join the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network. ECPN has a number of great initiatives going–like the Mentoring Program–that are only available to current members.
My experience has found that the greatest benefit of an AIC membership, above all of the tangible stuff, is the opportunity for networking. Building relationships with other conservators through in-person meetings and social networking has taught me a lot about the actual practice of conservation, along with how to approach the field as a student and eventually become a contributing professional. Purchasing a membership is really only the beginning of getting involved with your organization, but I’ll stop my preaching there.
Most importantly, joining an organization like AIC shows your commitment to a code of ethics for conservators. Through your CV or resume, you’re telling your teachers, employers and clients that for X number of years, you have understood the ethics involved with your work, and you have held to them. Personally, I think that says a lot about your qualifications. And, for those of you that don’t agree with a specific set of codes, don’t just complain about it; join a committee and change them. Sorry, I’m preaching again.
Best of luck with school and job applications, research, treatments, and talks in 2012. Happy New Year!