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Subject: History of preventive conservation

History of preventive conservation

From: Rick Kerschner <rkerschner<-a>
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Simon Lambert <simonlambert9 [at] hotmail__com> writes

>I am working on a paper about the history of preventive conservation as
>part of a degree in art conservation. I am interested in getting
>members' impressions and opinions about the early years of preventive
>conservation, what they think triggered this change in attitude towards
>conservation and when it occurred. ...

I believe that a real boost for preventive conservation in the US
came in the early 1980's when the Institute for Museum and Library
Services reevaluated how it was supporting conservation through its
Conservation Project Support Grants. Up to that time, they were
mainly funding conservation treatment, and treatment oriented
conservators counted on this support.

IMLS noted that some artifacts were being treated only to be placed
back into improper environments that hastened their deterioration
even after treatment. They also questioned whether their funds were
being used for the most critical museum conservation issues. To
address these concerns, they restructured their funding priorities
to what we are all now quite used to.

In general, their first priority is to fund general conservation
surveys and long range conservation planning, then detailed
condition surveys, then environmental surveys and improvements to
include storage upgrades, then treatments, research, and training.
This did not mean that they would not fund conservation treatment,
just that they needed to be assured that preventive conservation
aspects were being properly addressed and museums had determined
what their conservation priorities were before requesting specific
artifact treatment. Although this initially meant a switch in focus
for quite a few practicing conservators, I believe that it has
greatly benefited the preservation of our collections.

Richard L. Kerschner
Director of Preservation and Conservation
Shelburne Museum
PO Box 10, Route 7
Shelburne, VT 05482
802-985-3348 x3361


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:43
               Distributed: Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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Received on Wednesday, 6 February, 2008

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