WAACNewsletter
Volume 15, Number 3, Sept 1993, p.29

Results of the 1990 Alaska State-wide Conservation Survey

by Helen I. Alten

In 1990, a conservation survey was sent to Alaskan museums and libraries through the newsletters of both state organizations. Seventeen museums and twenty libraries responded. It was immediately evident that in Alaska there is a disparity between the needs, preservation understanding, and preservation training at local museums and libraries.

Museums

Of the museums that responded:

The museums ranked their collections needs and felt that the first priority for the state is an objects conservator, second priority is a paper/books conservator, third priority is a photographic conservator, and fourth priority is a paintings conservator.

When given a "wish list" for a central conservation laboratory, museum respondents gave top priority to on-site workshops and specific object treatments, with general surveys as a close second.

A tally of all the needs showed a strong interest in traveling lectures, exhibit preparation, and bulk supply purchases. Regional or on-site workshops, general surveys, and conservation training were ranked as needs by 75% of the museum respondents. 88% of the museums could not fund a specific conservation technician position within their institution, although 47% thought they might contribute toward a regional technician shared among museums in their area. 94% of the respondents would utilize a regional conservation laboratory if it were established.

Libraries

Of the library respondents:

The top two conservation needs were for a paper/books conservator and a photograph conservator. The most commonly expressed need was for a general survey, with on-site workshops and emergency preparedness a strong second. If there were a conservation technician training program in Alaska, 55% would send a current staff member to it, as long as the training was under 4 weeks per year. Although 90% would not fund a conservation technician position in their institution and 45% would not contribute toward a regional technician, 75% of the libraries would utilize a regional conservation laboratory if it were established.

Museums Alaska Conservation Symposium

One of my initiatives following the survey has been to create the annual Museums Alaska Conservation Symposium to encourage dialogue among members of the Alaska museum community. The first symposium was held 27-31 October 1992 during the Museums Alaska Annual Meeting.

Symposium presenters were chosen for their experience with specific museum problems and solutions. A strong emphasis was placed on available grant monies. The talks gave practical solutions for small museums to accomplish preservation goals and tasks, even with limited staff and resources. The audience was appreciative, and the atmosphere was congenial.

The second Museums Alaska Conservation Symposium will be held during the Museums Alaska Annual Meeting 5-8 October 1993. It will consist of thirty-minute talks on issues of interest to small and medium-sized museums. For more information, contact Helen Alten, Alaska State Museum, 395 Whittier Street, Juneau, Alaska, 99801, telephone 907/465-4806.

Helen I. Alten
State Conservator
Alaska State Museums
395 Whittier Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801

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