The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 6
Nov 1985


Training at Canberra

In 1978, the Australian government established a two-year Associate Diploma and a two-year Master of Applied Science Degree Program in the Conservation of Cultural Materials at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. In 1982, the Program was expanded and slightly altered. The main emphasis is now on a three-year Bachelor of Applied Science degree with the Associate Diploma primarily reserved for overseas students or those who wish only to study to the level of conservation technician. The Master's degree is by research thesis over a two-year period of full-tine study--the research can be wholly scientific, wholly conservation or a combination of both.

The main course of study--the Bachelor of Applied Science--allows the student to specialize in the areas of paper conservation, paintings conservation or objects conservation. Objects conservation is further divided into specialties of metals, textiles, inorganic and organic objects, including archaeological and ethnographic materials.

Dr. Colin Pearson, Principal Lecturer and Head of the Conservation of Cultural Materials Programs, believes each graduate should undertake a six- to twelve-month internship at the end of the course, working with a professional conservator. This internship, however, is not economically feasible unless the Australian Government establishes a grant system to financially support it.

The Paper Conservation course of study is administered by Bob Morrison, Senior Lecturer in Paper Conservation, who was formerly the Deputy Director at the New England (now Northeast) Document Conservation Center. Although Dr. Pearson and Mr. Morrison wish to offer restoration bookbinding and photographic conservation as part of the Program, this has been prevented by lack of staff, lack of facilities, and most especially by lack of funds. The Program was established to concentrate on the kind of work most Australian conservators would undertake after graduation, and books and photographs were on a lower priority at the time.

Entry requirements for the undergraduate programs include high school specialization in chemistry and mathematics, English literacy and art. Applicants with a high level of manual dexterity, motivation, the capacity to work with concentration and patience, and an art/craft background are sought, though applicants with experience and standing in the conservation profession will be considered.

The program of study emphasizes the understanding and mastery not only of basic conservation theories and procedures, but of the basic science of conservation, leading to a knowledge of the materials conserved and the materials used for the conservation.

This program is the only one of its kind in southern Asia and Oceania, and is sponsored by Unesco as a Regional Conservation Center. Probably no regional center in the world serves such a wide geographical area. Consequently, places are reserved in the program for students from countries within the region, who are generally funded by their governments. The Program has had individual students from Hong Kong, Fiji and Brunei, and several from New Zealand.

For further information write to: Dr. Colin Pearson, Principal Lecturer, Conservation of Cultural Materials, Canberra College of Advanced Education, Canberra, A.C.T., 2616, Australia.

(N.B. "A.C.T." means "Australian Capital Territory"--it corresponds to the District of Columbia in the U.S.)

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