The conservation of tangible and intangible object values
is a dilemma faced by many conservators and curators. While Western
museums often focus on the tangible aspects of objects, indigenous
communities many times stress the unseen intangible qualities of their
heritage. Allowing for indigenous input in the preservation of their
own heritage will hopefully help museums preserve both the physical
objects and the cultural meanings behind them.
Historically, organic objects in museum
collections have been treated with a variety of highly toxic pesticides.
This includes most Native American objects, which may be handled and
used ceremonially while on loan or after repatriation. Not only does
this raise serious health and environmental concerns, but it also may
affect the spiritual value of the object.
Involving local volunteers in heritage conservation after
natural disasters benefits conservation as a profession by opening up a
very specialized field to new perspectives and insights, helping people
cope with the devastating mental and physical damage after natural
disasters, and ultimately setting upprograms to facilitate local control of conservation.
The professionalization of conservation has
occurred contemporaneously with a continuous re-evaluation of its code
of ethics – by looking at these principles more as flexible notions of
practical wisdom, their attainability and use within the profession is
considered and applied to the conservation of the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra
Temples in Malta.
'The Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium houses one of the most varied collections of zoological specimens and cultural artefacts from the Congo. The collection, however, was compiled through the brutality of the Belgian colonization of the Congo. This poster narrates the foundational history and causes for the loss of context in Congolese objects and offers observations on why and how a conservator should address this collection’s context.'
'Conservation professionals must assimilate varying values to ensure their work reflects respect for the identity of the community who claims ownership of an object or site. While circumstances and issues can differ for a conservator, the results of their work are a demonstration of the tenuous compromise between professional and personal values. Competing and conflicting values of aesthetics, commemoration and political sensitivity become part of the conservator's arbitration, especially when dealing with sensitive subjects such as cultural heritage and identity.'
The First World War and the Florence flood of 1966 were milestones in the development of cultural heritage conservation. The British Museum and the Library of Congress played pivotal roles in the recovery from these calamities. These collaborative efforts had great impact and can still be felt today. Likewise, lessons learned from the earthquake of Japan in 2011 are expected to be further studied and shared.
'Public participation is essential to decision-making in cultural heritage issues, and in recent years it has become an increasingly focal point of the conservation process. The poster outlines the benefits to be gained from participatory conservation, and lists possible methods in which conservators may engage the public to participate. The content is presented mainly from the standpoint of built heritage sites conservation, but the principles apply equally to all conservation specialisations.'
The multi media that Contemporary Artists use to express their ideas challenge established conservation principles. The material used to manifest the original concept is often unstable and the physical piece has a short shelf life or ‘see by date’. The Artist intended permanence of the idea. The purchaser has assumed long term investment of an object. The conservator must claim membership of the Artists ‘studio support team’. A new paradigm is required to define the modus operandi of the conservator.
The looting of antiquities is a growing problem that has transformed into a multi-billion dollar a year business. By working on looted antiquities, conservators are perpetuating the illicit market by providing it with valuable objects. However, refusing to work on looted antiquities may mean a conservator is neglecting his or her duty to preserve cultural heritage. This poster outlines the steps a conservator needs to take when confronted with an illicit object and it calls for an ethical guideline to be produced.
Today we will start showing some of the posters designed by students from ARCLG141 (2013-14), one of the core courses of the MA in Principles of Conservation at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.
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!
UCL is seeking a dynamic Conservator to undertake and advise on remedial conservation work and assist with preventative conservation work as required. The post will work across UCL Museums and Collections, with particular responsibility natural and biomedical science collections, including animal and human fluid preserved specimens.
Closing Date: 7 Feb 2014
Interview date: 18th and 19th March 2014
They are looking for an enthusiastic, practical individual with good hand skills; who is able to work independently. You will need a degree in conservation or relevant knowledge and experience in a similar environment, plus experience of working directly with museum or medical collections in a laboratory context. Work requires close attention to detail, manual dexterity and the capability to learn routine procedures. A willingness to work in a laboratory environment and with Human Remains is essential.
Excellent communication skills, energy and enthusiasm, and a clear commitment to customer service are essential, as are great organisational skills. Applicants should be willing to work additional hours in the week if needed.
Training may be required to expand experience in line with the job and the range of collections to care for so opportunities to learn new techniques will be provided.
Postgraduate degree in conservation (covering both remedial and preventative work) or equivalent relevant working knowledge and experience is essential.
To apply for the vacancy please click here and follow the instructions.
If you have any queries regarding the vacancy please contact Jayne Dunn or the application process, please contact Lauren Sadler