The Future Is Here and It Wants You To Try Its Stuff

10 04 2013

The Future is knocking at your door with a suitcase full of things it would like to demo on your carpet, your walls, your stovetop.  I’m thinking, I’d like to let it in. I’ve got a world of artwork to conserve and I want to know all about the new materials and methods that just could transform my work.

Some of you may know that I have occasionally perused a blog called Technovelgy, which explores the inventions created in fiction as they are brought into reality by science. Since 2007, it has been fun to daydream and write about how those things could be used in my day-to-day. But now, it is becoming possible. Some of it is still out of reach because of expense, but even the pricier things might now be available through collaboration with a university or corporation who own them. I already use newer fabrics to replace paper-based materials  in my lab, and I’m hearing about other conservators who are experimenting with things I’d like to try. This is getting exciting!

We’ve got 3-d printers, nanocellulose, hand-held instrumental analysis, data modeling, huge informational databases, vast social networks for fast exchange of information and brainstorming- and the Google Glasses to use them,  Awareness of the need for new ways to reduce water and paper use, find alternatives to toxic chemicals, and gentler treatment practices is driving new ways of working. Color matching, pattern matching, new ways of filling losses that are both reversible and detectable, but not visually or chemically intrusive – so many possibilities!

Wired has a very interesting aggregation of research into biological materials science.  Mussels, Chitons, Sea Cucumbers, Venus’s Flower Basket sponges…ooh. New adhesives, new framing and exhibit methods, new tools!

Of course, all this experimentation comes with potential iatrogenic effects. Today’s conservators are constantly trying to fix what past “innovators” broke.  Mr. Barrow, for example, has gifted us with some interesting problems. What exactly WILL happen when we introduce biomaterials like sponge glass and superstrong mussel glue? And, what will we need to do to conserve artwork and historic documents made of bioluminescent inks? Tell you what, though. I’m really looking forward to my self-sharpening scalpels.

If I were a grad student right now, the choices for research would seem so inviting. As it is, I will muddle along, daydreaming, and looking for every opportunity to partner with someone with the right Sci-Fi stuff.  I wonder what’s up in the MIT Labs?





Bacon

8 11 2012

This post has very little to do with paper conservation, or art, but it does have to do with connection. I was recently musing with friends about what drives blog visits and the answers ranged from google analytics results to friendship and collegial networks to the attractive power of bacon and to the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. And it led me down the road to think about the ways that clients find me through personal and professional connections and the brief glimpses I have into their lives as they talk about what they value in the document or artwork they would like me to fix, and what a lovely pleasure that is, to be entrusted with their story and the object that carries it.

And I bet that this post, with the word bacon in it, will get the most hits this blog has ever had. I’ll report back on the experiment.





More resources for recovering damaged art and family valuables

2 11 2012

This is a very helpful blog post about what to do with storm damaged artworks.

And here is AIC’s Tips for The Care of Water-Damaged Family Heirlooms and Valuables.  Most importantly, after your safety is secured, know that a surprising number of things can be recovered, no matter how badly damaged they appear at the time.   Contact a conservator for assistance and advice. I’m happy to talk with you by email or phone, and can help you find a conservator in your area.

Here, again, is contact info for AIC’s CERT program: The American Institute for Conservation (AIC), the national association of conservation professionals, is offering free emergency response assistance to cultural organizations.

*       Call AIC’s 24-hour assistance number at 202.661.8068 for advice by phone.

*       Call 202.661.8068 to arrange for a team to come to the site to complete damage assessments and help with salvage organization.

UPDATE: MOMA has published a great list of actions to take when first responding to water damage to collections – which things to air dry, which to attend to first, how to proceed. Very helpful.





Emergency Resources for Cultural Institutions

29 10 2012

A Press Release from The American Institute for Conservation

cid:image001.jpg@01CC1BC1.2E6C2860

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2012

Contact: Eryl P. Wentworth

Phone: (202) 661-8060

Email: ewentworth@conservation-us.org

 

AIC-CERT

American Institute for Conservation—Collections Emergency Response Team

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— With Hurricane Sandy threatening the East Coast, museums, historic sites, libraries, and archives in much of the Eastern United States will be at risk.  The American Institute for Conservation (AIC), the national association of conservation professionals, is offering free emergency response assistance to cultural organizations.  Please help make sure that staff members of collecting institutions know to contact AIC-CERT when a disaster—flooding, hurricane, earthquake, fire—has damaged collections.

 

  • Call AIC’s 24-hour assistance number at 202.661.8068 for advice by phone.

 

  • Call 202.661.8068 to arrange for a team to come to the site to complete damage assessments and help with salvage organization.

 

AIC-CERT volunteers have provided assistance and advice to dozens of museums, libraries, and archives since 2007.  AIC-CERT teams were on the ground following Tropical Storm Irene and flooding in Minot, North Dakota in 2011, the Midwest floods in 2008, and in the Galveston area following Hurricane Ike later that year. AIC-CERT members and other AIC conservators participated in an 18-month-long project in Haiti assisting with recovery of cultural materials damaged in the 2010 earthquake.

AIC-CERT is supported and managed by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC).  In 2007 and again in 2010, FAIC received funding from the Institute of Museum & Library Services to support an advanced training program for conservators and other museum professionals that resulted in a force of 107 “rapid responders” trained to assess damage and initiate salvage of cultural collections after a disaster has occurred.  They are ready to assist.

Resources and information on disaster recovery and salvage can be found on the AIC website at www.conservation-us.org/disaster .  The public can also call AIC-CERT at 202.661.8068.

# # #

About AIC

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works is the national membership organization supporting the professionals who preserve our cultural heritage.  AIC plays a crucial role in establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public.

Learn more about AIC at www.conservation-us.org.

 

About FAIC

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that advance the conservation profession nationally and internationally while promoting understanding of our global cultural heritage.

Learn more about FAIC at www.conservation-us.org/foundation.





Plan Now for Conservation Grants Due January 15, 2013

19 09 2012

Here is some helpful information for those of you planning conservation projects in your institutions.  Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in your project planning and implementation.

From the Institute of Museum & Library Services [9/19/2012 via the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)]

As we have previously reported, funding for projects that were supported previously under the Conservation Project Support (CPS) Grants program will now be included as part of the Museums for America (MFA) program. In the last two fiscal years, $2.675 million was appropriated for Conservation Project Support Grants. The good news is that even more IMLS support for conservation is possible if there are enough excellent applications.

While final guidelines have not been posted, the draft guidelines indicated that

1.      Final guidelines will be posted as soon as approved by the Office of Management and Budget. A projected date of October 15, 2012 was given. We will alert you as soon as a firm date is available.

2.      The deadline for submitting applications for FY 2013 funds is JANUARY 15, 2013.

Given that the late fall through the end of the year is a particularly busy time, we encourage everyone to begin planning now for applications for conservation support.

 

IMLS will open the Grants.gov portal and begin accepting applications as soon as it receives OMB approval. We will alert you to this as soon as we know. Additionally, IMLS staff will be offering webinars throughout the fall season to assist applicants with application preparation and to answer questions about the new guidelines.

IMLS has indicated that “applications submitted under each of these program areas will be reviewed by subject-matter experts.” And further that “in 2013, there will be no restrictions on the number of applications a museum may submit to MFA. We encourage you to read the IMLS blog.

National Endowment for the Humanities

The deadline for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections is December 4, 2012 for Projects Beginning October 2013. This program helps cultural institutions plan and implement preservation strategies aimed at mitigating the greatest risks to collections in ways that pragmatically balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact. For information and guidelines , click here.





Recovering Treasures After a Fire

27 06 2012

With fires raging across the West, thoughts turn to the heartbreak and fear of thousands of people as they evacuate their homes. One of the few ways I can offer assistance is by providing some information about what to do next if fire damage does occur.  While health and safety must come first, after a building inspector has cleared your structure, the work of recovery can begin.

Here is information from FEMA on preparedness and recovery.

Here are some very practical instructions from the Library of Congress about how to salvage your treasures.

If you represent a cultural heritage institution in the West, WestPAS can help.  From their website: “Institutions are encouraged to call for assistance as soon as possible. The emergency toll-free number 888-905-7737 will connect you with a disaster response specialist. Phone consultation is provided at no charge. If phone consultation is not sufficient, on-site assistance may be arranged with a local consultant.”

The Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists has an Emergency Resources page that is very helpful.

Stay safe everyone.





First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

17 03 2012

Thanks, Donovan, for the lyric.  Or a zen master. One of the two.

This post is about a bullet hole through a watercolor.  It’s about a watercolor that was the last one done by the artist before her body stopped cooperating with her enough to paint, or to go to the places from which she liked to paint.  It’s about a bullet that came through the house from the outside, traveled through the painting and on out into the house, but did not travel through the artist who would normally be standing there if it had just been 15 minutes later. This post is about fixing something more than bursting paper.  This post is about why I love this work.

Image

 








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