JOYCE HILL STONER
SHARONTIMMONS (Ed.), Preservation and Conservation: Principles and Practices, Proceedings of the North American Regional Conference, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 10–16, 1972. The Preservation Press, produced by the Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.1976, 547 pp. $15.00.
This volume contains 60 texts of papers, commentaries and summarized discussions of the 1972 conference conducted under the auspices of the International Centre for Conservation and the International Centre Committee of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Russell V. Keune, Program Coordinator, states in the foreword that the goal of the conference was to enable practitioners of the two disciplines of conservation and historic preservation to exchange views and to explore areas where one group might be able to assist the other.
The collection of subjects addressed is so varied that it cannot be comprehensively reviewed, but generally reported. The lengthy table of contents was also published in Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts, vol. 13, no. 2, 1976, abstract 13-780. Subject headings include:
- Occupations (architectural historians, architects, curators, conservators, archaeologists, administrators and educators)
- Organizations (21 leading conservation-preservation organizations)
- Materials and techniques (wood, masonry and masonry products, metals, paints and varnishes, and maintenance)
- Standards (philosophy, performance, accreditation and licensing)
- Education (for architectural preservationists and art conservators)
- Special presentations (the history of the Colonial Williamsburg and the Independence National Historical Park restoration, and the role of the International Council of Monuments and Sites.
A list of contributors and their addresses is provided but, regrettably, no index.
The publication could be more accurately entitled Historic Preservation and Conservation as very little attention is given to the conservation problems of paintings, paper or other museum objects. About half of the 44 contributors are apparently involved with historic preservation, architectural restoration and administration judging from the listings on pp. 545–547, while the other half is made up of international art conservators, scientists, historians, one journalist and one archaeologist. The assembling of these diverse and often distinct professions is certainly laudable, and while the participants speak to the point on their specialties, discussions and commentaries show varying amounts of interdisciplinary awareness. A positive note is stated by Sheldon Keck on p. 503: “Each has something to learn from the other and will continue to as each develops new methods and research. I hope restoration architects and art conservators continue to collaborate so that this common goal can be achieved more speedily.”
The time lapse between the conference (1972) and publication (1976) is unfortunate. The listing of art conservation training programs on p. 482 was already out of date by publication. (The listed Intermuseum Conservation Association at Oberlin has ceased its formal training program; the University of Delaware/Winterthur program in art conservation began in 1974, and is not listed; and the N.Y.U. Conservation Center yearly acceptance has doubled.) At least three of the addresses for the “21 leading conservation-preservation organizations” listed on pp. 84–85 are out of date, although the list of organization titles is still a useful reference, rarely found elsewhere.
The papers are not equally footnoted or illustrated. Only about a fourth of the texts include illustrations or tables, and bibliographies and references are provided for only about a third of the sixty essays. The ten illustrations of the restoration of Independence National Historical Park (pp. 523–536) and the six reproductions of Intermuseum Laboratory examination and treatment forms (pp. 406–411) are notable exceptions. Substantial bibliographies are provided for historical archaeology (p. 43), brick, stone and adobe (pp. 140–141), masonry and masonry products (pp. 188–189), and architectural metals (pp. 241–242).
Judging from the representation of many major art conservation laboratories and training centers, the speakers were carefully assembled. The rarity of major reference books on the discipline of art conservation (and apparently also on architectural restoration) makes this publication a wise inclusion for university, museum and historic preservation libraries. Conservators would do well to acquaint themselves with problems, attitudes and current conservation-awareness of architectural restorationists represented by this diverse collection of essays.JOYCE HILLSTONER