Thursday, 13 December 2012

Seminários de Pesquisa em Pós-Graduação - Ciência e Conservação Contemporânea - na Escola de Belas Artes, UFMG

Para quem está no Brasil! Seminários de Pesquisa em Pós-Graduação - Ciência e Conservação Contemporânea - na Escola de Belas Artes, UFMG. Por favor divulguem!

17 dezembro
Abertura - Maurílio Rocha- 9.30-9.40
Luiz Souza - 9.40-10.10
Marcos Hill - 10.10-10.40
Renata Peters (Desafios da conservação contemporânea) - 10.40-11.40

18 de dezembro
Abertura - Yacy-Ara Froner 9.30-9.40
Antônio Gilberto (REDE UFMG) - 9.40 - 10.10
Renata Peters - (Projetos multi-disciplinares, Finding the Fallen - Conservação e a Primeira Guerra Mundial)10.10- 11.10

19 de dezembro
Abertura - Vídeo do Xingu - 9.30-10.00
Renata Peters - Projectos participativos - Os Khipu de San Cristobal de Rapaz - 10.00 - 11.00

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Montezuma's penacho

Alfonso de Maria y Campos, Director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico, gives his very diplomatic opinion on the negotiations over Montezuma's penacho,  commonly known as the Feather Headdress of Ancient Mexico – housed at the Museum of Ethnography in Vienna.

"... is a cultural good that represents the feather craftsmanship of Mesoamerica, unique in that it evinces the quality and mastery of Mexican artisans.Ancient prehispanic craftsmen created an art form out of garments and other objects made with feathers, which reflected the power of those who wore them or served as element in the offerings that played an integral part in the daily lives of prehispanic cultures."
... "Certain cultural goods become the legacy of a country and the ability of human beings to materialise the identity of a group or the sentiment of an era. One example of this is the Feather Headdress of Ancient Mexico which is deeply rooted in the Mexican identity of the 21st Century. It left national territory almost half a millennium ago and is one of the first witnesses of the encounter between two cultures."

From The Guardian: Turkey turns to human rights law to reclaim British Museum sculptures

One more interesting twist in the campaigns for the repatriation of artefacts removed from their original contexts, perhaps the most interesting one in recent times. Campaigners are now going to European court in attempt to repatriate artefacts created for the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus:

"Human rights legislation tha

t has overturned the convictions of terrorists and rapists could now rob the British Museum of sculptures created for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
A Turkish challenge in the European court of human rights will be a test case for the repatriation of art from one nation to another, a potential disaster for the world's museums.
Despite criticism of their own country's human rights record, Turkish campaigners are turning to human rights law – a dramatic move to reclaim sculptures that once adorned the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, an ancient wonder along with sites such as the hanging gardens of Babylon and Egypt's pyramids. Greek sculptors in 350BC created a 40-metre-high monument, crowned by a colossal four-horse chariot on a stepped pyramid. A magnificent horse's head is among sculptures acquired by the British Museum in the mid-19th century, which campaigners want returned to their original site – Bodrum in south-west Turkey."

It will be relevant to see which arguments are being used to justify the use of human rights legislation in repatriation cases.

Read more here:

The Georges and Conservation: George Clooney plays conservator George Stout

George Clooney has lined up the cast for his next film, Monuments Men: Daniel Craig, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett, among others. The story cent
ers on a group of art experts selected by the U.S. Government to chase down the stolen art of Europe during World War II.
The plot is based on Robert M. Edsel‘s non-fiction novel 'The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History'.
"At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis."

For those who don't know, George Stout was a conservator at the Fogg Art Museum. See more about him here:

Outdoor Sculpture Internships: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Each summer the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Conservation Department offers two full-time paid pre-program internship positions as part of the maintenance program
 for the outdoor collection. For the summer of 2013, these internships will run from May 6 - July 26, 2013 with a $4,000 stipend available to each intern.

The Hirshhorn Museum is located in Washington D.C. on the National Mall and has more than seventy sculptures situated throughout its sculpture garden and plaza areas. The objects, which range in size from three to more than sixty feet in height, are made from a variety of materials including stone, bronze, iron, aluminum, and steel.

The outdoor sculptures receive annual maintenance conservation treatments including washing, the application of protective surface coatings, and structural repairs. The work is performed mostly outdoors, with additional maintenance conducted on the indoor sculptures as required. Please note that the outdoor work is strenuous, and done in a summer climate that is hot and humid.

Visits to other conservation laboratories, museum collections, bronze foundries, and artists' studios are incorporated into the program as they relate to the various treatments performed.

Applications must be completed online at


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Conservation and Development Research Network

The Conservation and Development Research Network (CDRN) is based at the UCL Inst of Archaeology. This research network brings together researchers to critically examine the potential impact of conservation in social and political arenas. The results of this research network will foster conservation practices relevant to socio- cultural, economic and/or ecological contexts of areas in need for development, areas of post-conflict reconstruction (ongoing conflict and/or conflict prone will also be considered), or reconstruction due to natural disasters. 
CDRN members include: Rebecca Bennett (UCL/IoA alumna);Dimitrios Chatzigiannis; Anne-Marie Deisser (University of Nairobi, Department of History and Archaeology); Eric Demarche (UCL-Qatar, MSc Conservation Studies); Jessica Johnson (University of Delaware, Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage); Renata Peters (UCL/IoA Lecturer and CDRN Coordinator); Flavia Ravaioli (UCL/IoA MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums); Kelly Schulze (UCL/IoA MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums); Tracey Sweek (British Museum).
Our main aims are to:
  • Identify and elaborate on how the practice of conservation can impact on people’s wellbeing and quality of life
  • Engage local groups in re-construction and/or development of their socio-cultural life through the practice of conservation
  • Explore cross-disciplinary collaborations between academics and professionals involved in cultural and environmental conservation (in both practical and theoretical levels)
  • Identify available local resources and study the prospects to use it
  • Develop ways to make the practice of conservation sustainable
  • Find links between material heritage conservation and environmental conservation, especially in cases where biodiversity and ecology play strong roles in the lives of local people

Members of CDRN are currently collaborating with various projects, including:
The Origins of the Acheulean in East Africa (ORACEAF) Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) is the site where the earliest Acheulean was first discovered, and where the traditional view of the Oldowan-Acheulean transition was first established. The multidisciplinary character of the ORACEAF project is providing an integrative perspective to the analysis of the paleoecology, archaeology, geology and geochronology of the early Acheulean at Olduvai. In addition, conservators R Peters and R Bennett are now working on a long-term conservation project for the material obtained from recent excavations.  
Archaeology, Heritage and Civilisation in Iraqi Kurdistan The Shahrizor Plain, where UCL has been permitted to work, lies in the province of Suleimaniya, within the heartlands of what was once referred to as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’; the region in which farming, urban life and literacy began. Although the project is in early stages of development R Peters, F Ravaioli and colleagues working in Kurdistan are working on a sustainable conservation policy for material that happens to be unveiled by the forthcoming excavation season.
See more details here:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Internship in Ethnographic Conservation at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

 The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford is offering an eight-week internship to conservation students in July and August 2013.  The internship is intended to be a mid-course placement for students returning to study in 2013-2014. 

The intern will work with Jeremy Uden, Senior Clothworkers’ Conservation Fellow, on material collected on the first and second voyages of Captain James Cook.  For more information on the project see

They are unable to offer remuneration of any kind for the internship. 

To apply, please email a CV and covering letter, demonstrating an interest in ethnographic conservation, to  by Monday 7th January 2013.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Geography, museums and collections

Seminar organized by the London Group of Historical Geographers
Programme, Spring 2013 

22 January 2013
Caroline Cornish (Royal Holloway)
Reconfiguring objects, refashioning spaces: the Kew Museums of Economic Botany 

5 February 2013 
James Wallis (University of Exeter)
Oh! What a lovely exhibition! Exploring the Imperial War Museum s First World War fiftieth anniversary displays, 1964 1968

19 February 2013
Claire Wintle (University of Brighton)
Decolonising the Smithsonian: American foreign policy and colonial collections, 1945-1970

5 March 2013
Nicholas Thomas (University of Cambridge)
Pacific presences: encounter and experiment in the European museum

19 March 2013
George Lovell (Queen s University, Ontario)
The archive that never was: state terror and historical memory in Guatemala

These seminars are held on Tuesdays at 5.15pm in the Torrington Room 104, South Block, Senate House, University of London.

For further details, or to have your name added to their e-mail list, please contact Felix Driver, Royal Holloway ( or Miles Ogborn, Queen Mary (

Unpaid internships at the CCI

See details about unpaid internship at the CCI. 
Watch out for close deadline: 15 December

Saturday, 17 November 2012

#Twinkierevolution by J F Ellis

#Twinkierevolution by J F Ellis is the last of a series of conservation posters designed by UCL/Q Principles of Conservation students to be posted here. 'Principles' is one of the core courses of the UCL/Q MSc Conservation Studies, coordinated/taught by me in Doha. Each poster explored a specific conservation issue and tailored it to the targeted audience. The posters were accompanied by a paper where the same issues were explored in more depth. Unfortunately you will only have access to the posters!  But watch this space and you will certainly know more about the amazing work these conservation students are doing!
You can see all the posters in this blog by scrolling the page down or on our UCL page

#Twinkierevolution by J F Ellis
Abstract: social media is a dynamic force manifested into a tool of modern expression, both politically and personally across the Middle East. What follows shows how this force can play a large part in the development of Middle Eastern views toward the conservation of cultural heritage. By examining stereotypes of terminology, their contemporary origins, and definitions against regional understandings we can find new methods for public outreach within the cultural heritage sector. New uses of technology have given the most marginalized groups in the region a voice. Why can't it give objects a voice as well?
Target: Geared towards issues of interest to both conservators and cultural heritage museum professionals of the Middle East and beyond. This poster can also be a tool to educate people outside these realms and hopes to spark interest in the cultural heritage sector.

Preservation of endangered artifacts and sites in areas of conflict By E Demarche

Preservation of endangered artifacts and sites in areas of conflict By E. Demarche

Abstract: The aim of this poster (and accompanying paper) is to provide cultural heritage professionals working in areas of conflict with ideas and guidelines on how to best preserve objects and sites of archaeological and cultural value. This is done by discussing possible actions and through the use of past examples of both successes and failures. A special thank you to Ms. Laura Childs and Dr. Laurie Rush for helping me find some sources of research.
Target: Cultural heritage professionals (i.e. archaeologists, curators, conservators, et cetera) who are located and working in areas where objects and sites of cultural and archaeological value.

Neutrality, Objectivity and reversibility: fact or fiction? By T K

Neutrality, Objectivity and reversibility: fact or fiction? By T K
Abstract: The present poster explores the concepts of neutrality, objectivity and reversibility. Although such long held tenets have guided conservation interventions since the mid-twentieth century, dynamic social changes are calling them in question.  In addition, their roles in decision making process in relation to the current approach of conservation are being thoroughly examined.
Target: Conservation students (Approximate Age: 18-23)

Conservation and sacred tradition by T Hudson

Conservation and sacred tradition by T Hudson

Abstract: In cases of in situ conservation of religious heritage, the original custodians are not only important stakeholders but can also be valuable resources for the conservation process. Conservators must approach such situations with a sense of openness to different value systems and the possibility for mutual education. Case studies demonstrate positive instances of preservation and continuity achieved through cooperation and communication.  
Target: Museum professionals, conservators, conservation students

Contemporary Art: Authenticity & Replicas by S Kavda

Contemporary Art: Authenticity & Replicas by S Kavda
Abstract: This poster uses case studies of conceptual art to introduce notions of authenticity and replicas  in eastern and western cultural contexts. It points out the need to alter conservation approaches towards contemporary artworks, as they contradict  some aspects of conservation ethics. The aim is to highlight that it may not be unethical to replicate contemporary works of art when materiality is not its central value.
Target: Professional art conservators, especially contemporary art conservators.

Balancing the intangible by E B

Balancing the intangible by E B is the first of a series of posters designed by students of the course Principles of Conservation to be posted here. Principles of Conservation is one of the core courses of the UCL-Q MSc in Conservation Studies, taught by R Peters in Doha.  We will be posting other posters here soon. Watch this space!  ffff

Abstract: The intent of this poster is to present the recent changes in methodology and perspective within the conservation profession. While classical conservation has tended to concern itself with the object and material components of an ethnographic object, the field is changing to accommodate interests in a collaborative and dynamic process with authority given to the living cultures from which the objects originated. Particular focus here is given to the living, intangible and sacred cultural heritage of North American Native and Indigenous peoples.
Target Audience: Museum visitors, with a specific emphasis toward those who might be considered amateur ethnographers as well as undergraduate students of museology and conservation.

The Maya: climate change and Spanish conquest

Two interesting articles about the Maya emerged recently. The first refers to research done by Archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) whereby evidence indicates the Maya living in an ancient settlement of Mexico's east coast endured appallingly miserable lives during the Spanish conquest of the 16th century. 

"Found in the recently opened archaeological site of San Miguelito, in the middle of the hotel chain area of Quintana Roo, near Cancun, the human burials were excavated within 11 housing buildings dating to the Late Postclassic Mayan Period (1200 – 1550)... Archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) estimate that at least 30 burials belong to infants between the ages of three and six. The majority suffered from hunger and most likely died of related diseases." 

The second item refers to the research published on Science magazine and discusses the influence of climate change in the rise and fall of the Maya. See excerpt from the NYT below:

"The early classic Maya period — about A.D. 450 to 660 — “was remarkably wet,” said an author of the study, Douglas Kennett, a geo-archaeologist at Penn State. “There was a proliferation of population, an increase in agriculture and a rise in divine kings that became prominent leaders.” ... But then things dried up. The researchers compared the climate record with an existing “war index” — a log of hostile events based on how often certain keywords occurred in Maya inscriptions on stone monuments — and found a strong correlation between drought and warfare between cities. ... “About A.D. 660, you get indications of some social stress that goes up in tandem with this drying period” ... Maya cities were linked, but each operated with its own autonomous political structure. When resources were strained, the groups may have turned against one another. Over several hundred years, “the social fabric was eventually destabilized,” Dr. Kennett said. Most Maya cities collapsed between A.D. 800 and 900."

See more info about this on News Discovery, the NYT and Science 

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