Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Dealing with disaster

Source: American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Emily Sharpe, When disasters strike, keep calm and conserve, The Art Newspaper, 20 June 2016

Facing physical, financial and political catastrophe, leading conservators share their survival strategies

The theme for the joint conference of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (CAC) couldn’t have been more spot on. As 1,400 conservators, archivists and museum professionals met in Montreal to discuss preparing for disasters and the unexpected in conservation, a massive wildfire raged 3,800km away in Alberta. Early estimates suggest that the blaze, which was still active as we went to press, has so far caused between $5bn and $10bn worth of damage, surpassing the $5bn caused by the devastating floods in the same region in 2013.

The conference was timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Florence Flood of 1966—a revolutionary moment in the history of conservation, not only because of the lessons learned and the development of new technologies and methods, but also because it attracted a new generation of conservators to the field. And while the conference did include several brilliant talks related to the 1966 flood, there were also discussions related to other natural and man-made disasters, as well as ones on innovative treatments using cutting-edge technology, revamping disaster preparedness plans and race and diversity within the field.

Here are some top tips and a sampling of the topics discussed at the conference.

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