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Subject: Active participation in DistList

Active participation in DistList

From: Jerry Podany <jpodany>
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 1998
In reference to:

>   "It is possible that many people are in my position. Conservators
>    at my institution are strongly discouraged from contributing
>    publicly to the list*.

Among the many conservators I have met over the years, who do or who
have worked for institutions, I have never met anyone who was under
this kind of restriction.  It would be, I am sure, naive of me to
assume such situations do not exist, but I prefer to believe they
are the exception and not the rule.  The recent reference to the
increasingly litigious nature of the world may have something to do
with this persons unfortunate state, but I would suspect it is more
a matter of a misunderstanding regarding what the list is and who it
is for, and who it serves.  My staff is under no such restriction,
nor as far as I know are any other members of the conservation staff
of the Getty Trust.  But they are expected to provide responsible
answers, that is to say, they are asked to include all the
appropriate cautionary statements regarding methodologies, materials
and expectations.  Something that should simply be assumed of any
professional.  I am deeply saddened to hear that there are
conservators working under clearly inappropriate restrictions which
limit them from contributing to the general knowledge of the field.
Perhaps much in these exchanges will assist this conservator in
negotiating a more reasonable policy.

Of even greater concern however was reading the statements that , at
least at one time and in some places, *conservators were forbidden
to do documentation*. I can only hope that such situations are part
of the past, the distant past, and that institutions, as well as
other clients, are now being educated and are accepting the
importance of full documentation...that is, documentation that
clearly reports what the conservator has found and what they have
done.  While I am not in private practice, many of the conservators
who are and for whom I have enormous respect,  do not make such
documentation an optional cost, it is simply part of the treatment
plan from the start.  In this way they are quite successful in
fulfilling an important part of their professional responsibilities
and I would think provide an important illustration and lesson to
the owner regarding the value of the exercise.

Being an  *institutional conservator* I can not imagine that there
are *many* conservators working in institutional settings with the
fully unreasonable restriction on no documentation imposed upon
them.  While I have witnessed the resistance of some administrators
to expenditures associated with full documentation, this was quite
some time ago and I know of no one at present who is forbidden to
carry out their professional responsibilities today.  Nor can I
accept that they would so willingly cower under such restrictions,
if  in fact they do exist, and prefer rather to pay lip service to
such an important part of their professional ethics.  Documentation
is an increasingly important part of our activity and of proven
value to all associated professions.  Indeed it has been in these
very institutions where documentation has taken its greatest hold
and developed most impressively.  To report one such instance would
be disturbing enough, but to claim it is wide spread casts an unfair
shadow upon a segment of this profession who traditionally have
contributed significantly in raising the professional standing of
our field and who undertake the larger share of efforts to educate
young students entering the field (the majority of internships are
offered by institutions).  I for one will give more credit to my
colleagues and certainly retain more respect for their adherence and
dedication to the ethics of this profession.

One last comment.  There have been several misinformed entries on
the growing interest in certification within the field.  The
Certification Task Force is fully dedicated to an open discussion of
this topic. They are working impressively hard at compiling
comparative efforts, reviewing the history of certification both in
the US and abroad, and are investigating all aspects of the process
in order to bring to the membership information that enables all of
us to consider certification in an informed environment.  The Task
Force welcomes all input as it makes efforts to clarify what is both
a complex and often divisive subject. Their effort is in response to
a clear and growing interest on the part of the membership.  The AIC
has no intention of *forcing* certification on anyone, indeed, it
could not do so.

What will come of this effort is very much influenced by the input
of the membership.  We all benefit from an open discussion and the
Task Force is doing an admirable job  providing  information to
assure that such a discussion is not only open, but also informed.

Jerry Podany
Head of Antiquities Conservation
J. Paul Getty Museum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:6
                 Distributed: Wednesday, June 24, 1998
                        Message Id: cdl-12-6-002
Received on Tuesday, 23 June, 1998

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