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Subject: Conservation exhibits

Conservation exhibits

From: John Kjelland <johnkj>
Date: Tuesday, April 21, 1998
A response to David Harvey's inquiry on conservation exhibits:

This type of exhibit hosted by an institution can be a very
effective tool in public relations efforts and can be implemented
with success under certain conditions. These thoughts are an
overview of my experience while spending six months working on-site
performing a conservation treatment in the lobby at the Mammoth Hot
Springs Hotel, Yellowstone National Park.

Advantages include:

    *   The enjoyment for a visitor to watch the treatment process.
    *   The promotion of good will for the museum.
    *   The promotion of awareness of the conservation field.
    *   A renewed interest of visitors in supporting the museum,
        hopefully.
    *   And it demonstrates the concern the institution has in
        caring for its collection.

Disadvantages include:

    *   Visitor's questions, visitor's sounds, and visitors
        occasionally crossing the barrier line can interrupt the
        practitioner's concentration.
    *   Volunteer interpreters are not always available to mediate.
        An interpreter's presence is key to the success of the
        exhibit.
    *   Scheduling conflicts with other events in the exhibit space.

In summary, the advantages can out-weigh the disadvantages. If
properly set up, I believe that exhibited conservation treatments
can be beneficial to the public opinion without negatively impacting
the treatment, institution, or conservator.

It takes an inordinate ability on the part of a conservator to
effectively treat an object while being "on stage" as it were, in
front of the general public.

Without interpreters being on hand continually during treatment this
burden falls directly on the conservator, which makes his job nearly
impossible. By concentrating solely on the work the visitor does not
receive fair recognition. This then, undermines the public relation
efforts sought by the institution.

John Kjelland, conservator

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:85
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 22, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-85-007
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 21 April, 1998

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