Kia ora (that’s hello in Maori, the native culture of New Zealand). I just returned from a fabulous trip to Wellington for the Photographs Conservation Joint Meeting of the AIC PMG and the ICOM-CC PMWG. Sorry for all the acronyms. This is only the second joint meeting of the two groups (the first was in Rochester in 2007) as the PMG meets biennially and the PMWG meets triennially. It was definitely a treat for me to fly across the world the soak up some sun…but more importantly the knowledge of some of the field’s most experienced conservators and allied professionals. A huge thanks to all of my funders (listed below)!
I won’t go into detail about every single talk, but I will say that I noticed some overall themes throughout the week. For starters, there is a push for emergency and disaster planning–as there rightly should be–in response to climate change and the increased occurrence of natural disasters. Andrew Robb (Library of Congress) gave an excellent workshop on Collections Emergency Management that was very timely considering that Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast just last October (see previous post).
Another theme was the dematerialization of the medium (always accompanied by a slight panic for the job security of photograph conservators). Sylvie Penichon (Amon Carter Museum) discussed digital materials and their preservation in her informative workshop on contemporary photography, and other speakers promoted printing hard copies of important digital files as a back-up preservation method. In my opinion, there is still a lot of research to be done on borne-digital materials, including their use in conservation treatments. Victoria Binder (Legion of Honor) presented a beautiful poster on creating digital fills for loss compensation in photographs.
There were also many well-research talks on specific photographic processes and innovative treatments, as well as talks and posters on conservation outreach, including my poster on using social media for public engagement (handout attached below). Debbie Hess Norris ended the first day of presentations on an inspiring note (literally, with a slideshow of images set to Imagine by the Beatles). She reported on the current progress of global outreach in photograph preservation and shared a google map showing World Wide Photographic Preservation Projects–be sure to check it out.
Thanks to the National Library of New Zealand and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for organizing a lovely conference, including a traditional Maori welcome ceremony at the opening reception, as well as a delicious dinner at The Boatshed on the waterfront. I was sad to pack up my sandals and leave Wellington, but I can now start looking forward to a closer–albeit colder–PMG winter meeting in Boston!
*Thank you to the following organizations for generously supporting my attendance at the conference: The Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation George Stout Grant, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Tru Vue, Inc., the University of Delaware Graduate Office Professional Development Award, the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation Professional Development Award, and the Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware!!