Thursday, May 31 • 9:30am - 10:00am
Practicing what we preach: An argument for the recognition and preservation of a material culture of conservation

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Though we often think of modern conservation as a “young” field, the truth is that our history becomes longer with every passing day. The importance of establishing a historical record for our field has long been recognized. Substantial progress has been made through efforts such as the establishment in 1975 of the FAIC Oral History Project and more recent scholarship that considers the history of key figures, institutions, and events. Some important aspects of our history, however, have still received little to no attention. This presentation argues that, in addition to the development of a historical record, it is important to recognize and preserve the material culture of conservation. As exemplified by the theme of this year’s AIC meeting, the conservation field is partly defined by materials: those that we preserve, but also those that we use in our work. So, too, is our history. Examples of this material culture range from those objects which are already symbolic of conservation, such as Edward Forbe’s pigment collection, to historical treatment records and photography, to previously conserved objects that now serve not only as an example of the history of their own genres, but also as an indication of conservation's past and development. The preservation and future study of these objects in the context of the history of conservation will be integral to the success of ongoing scholarship in the history of conservation and of closely allied fields such as museology and art history. Study of field-specific material culture has long been an important aspect of the history of medicine, science, and archeology. This presentation will use examples of this scholarship and its effects to argue for the importance of recognizing the existence of a material culture of conservation, identifying which artifacts may fit into this category, and taking steps to preserve them now. After all, if we do not preserve our own history, who will?

avatar for Carrie McNeal

Carrie McNeal

PhD Student, Brock University
Carrie McNeal is a student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program at Brock University in St. Catherine, Ontario. Her current research explores the history of conservation in the museum setting. She is the former Director of Conservation at The Strong in Rochester, New York... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 9:30am - 10:00am MDT
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston