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Subject: Professional qualifications and AIC

Professional qualifications and AIC

From: George Schwartz <george>
Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Katharine Untch <kuntch [at] getty__edu> writes

>There are many aspects open for debate in thinking about a
>certification program.  One aspect to keep in mind is that AIC needs
>to steer clear of having its membership categories of "Professional
>Associate" and "Fellow" used as de-facto qualifications in lieu of
>some type of recognized certification program. ...

It is exciting to see the lively discussion of the certification
program. I concur with Katharine that the AIC should not use
membership categories as a yardstick for measuring competence, but
regrettably that is precisely what is being done in the AIC-FAIC
Guide to conservation services, by excluding Associate members. On
the web page it states, that:

   ".... Conservators in the guide system have achieved either
    Fellow or Professional Associate status members of the American
    Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

Implying, that somehow anyone who is not either a Fellow or a
Professional Associate is incompetent and should not be trusted to
perform conservation treatment, or that becoming a Fellow or a P.A.
is the exclusive qualifying technical achievement indicating
competence and ability.

This mentality is echoed by organizations like Art-Care, by adopting
the same criteria for "the right conservator" on their web site, as
may be seen in their recent posting in Conservation DistList
Instance: 17:10 Monday, July 7, 2003:

>... We are only accepting  conservators
>in private practice who are AIC Professional Associates and Fellows
>and those holding the Fellow Distinction in the IIC.

What is a collector, a curator, or a small museum collections
manager to think, if by implication the AIC deems everyone else who
is not on the short list unsuitable to carry out treatment? Are
conservators working in the various institutional or private labs
around the country who are not Fellows or P.A.-s less than competent
enough? Yet this is precisely the conclusion which may be drawn from
the criteria used in the AIC guide system.

I have high hopes that Certification will result in creating a
universal knowledge base and guidelines for practice reflecting the
current state of the art. Certification based on a practitioner's
familiarity with this knowledge base and his or her willingness to
abide by the Code of Ethics, will prove to be a more practical and
fair representation of one's ability and suitability to perform
treatment than the current status quo.

If there is a consensus within the AIC's Board of Directors on
Katharine's thinking as abstracted above, a good first step would be
to include in the AIC-FAIC Guide to conservation services those
Associate members, who are willing to abide by the Code of Ethics
and Conduct.

The decision to exclude Associates from the Guide is a relatively
recent change and it leaves an inquirer in need of conservation
service providers with many fewer options, sometimes no convenient
option at all. There are simply too few practicing Fellows or P.A.-s
to fill the need and, as Katharine states, membership categories
should not be used as a de-facto indication for qualifications.

George Schwartz
ConservArt - Master Frame Makers and Art Conservators
8177 Glades Road #16
Boca Raton FL 33434 U.S.A.
Fax: 561-482-6787

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:11
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 15, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-11-013
Received on Wednesday, 9 July, 2003

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