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Subject: Professional qualifications and AIC

Professional qualifications and AIC

From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo>
Date: Sunday, July 6, 2003
This is in response to a post by Gene McCall on June 18, 2003
concerning personal qualifications and AIC certification
(Conservation DistList Instance: 17:2 Thursday, June 19, 2003).  Mr.
McCall expresses his disappointment with the direction the AIC has
been taking concerning certification.  He tells us that he did not
go to the annual meeting because he felt "the AIC was becoming a
less inclusive organization than it once was."  He ends his post
questioning his future relationship with the AIC.  This response has
been a common one I have heard over the past decade.  I urge Mr.
McCall to stay in the AIC as I do everyone else who expresses their
displeasure with the organization.

This meeting was a very good one, the papers presented were
excellent and the discussions dynamic, informative and exciting.  It
is true that there is tension in the AIC and that this has been
expressed by argument at the meetings and outside over
certification.  All organizations have such problems, however, we
need to respect differences of opinion and be patient with each
other. There has been, as Mr. McCall voices, a feeling of exclusion
resulting from the certification debate, and some people have simply
left the organization rather than participate, this may explain why
the AIC membership has been flat over the past 10 years.

I do think that we need to keep certification in perspective.  One
must recall that certification has been begun and voted down before.
After a long period of wrangling in the 1960s a Board of Examiners
was set up in the early 1970s (by resolution in 1973) and functioned
to the 1980s to certify paper conservators.  The process was so
divisive that in the July 1986 issue of the AIC Newsletter the AIC
Board terminated the process disbanding the Board of Examiners. This
followed a long period of charges of elitism and discrimination (see
Elisabeth packard's letter in AIC Newsletter, March 1986) and the
creation of the AD HOC Review Committee of the BOE (their report
also in the March 1986 AIC Newsletter).  Seven goals were defined
that should be met according to the Committee before certification
would be expected to go forward.  We might debate whether any of
these have been met, certainly everyone who reads my posts on this
knows my opinion.  However, what I think is important is that at the
Washington AIC meeting in June during the issues session one speaker
labeled those who have left the AIC as "sour grapes people",
denigrating criticism of AIC policy.  This is not a positive
approach.  We should encourage debate and full participation, rather
than expect uniformity.  Another point of great importance to the
debate is that at the meeting English and Canadian conservators
spoke of their certification process.  The upshot was that after the
initial period of "fast track" certification few people have been
certified and few are applying.  This parallels the experience of
the BOE (see the letter by Marian Peck Dirda, AIC Newsletter,
January 1985).  The essential question which has never been answered
is why does anyone believe that we are going to do a better job of
getting people certified now than in the 1970s and 80s?  Why will we
do better than we have in getting people to become Fellows or P.A.s?
And finally, is it worth it to go through all this dissension?
Perhaps it would be more constructive to put this energy into
raising money to provide free or more affordable training sessions
at AIC meetings or to subsidize the meeting costs? Respectfully,

Niccolo Caldararo
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:10
                   Distributed: Monday, July 7, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-10-006
                                  ***
Received on Sunday, 6 July, 2003

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