Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Accreditation


From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo>
Date: Tuesday, May 4, 1999
This is in answer to Bryan Owen's thoughtful comments on
accreditation.  I do believe, first, that a great number of people
are honestly attempting to deal with this problem in a most fair
manner.  I think that the long delay in certification which has
largely hinged on the grandfathered and grandmothered practitioners
and the unresolved problem of equity between academic and
apprenticeship education are the main stumbling blocks.

Bryan notes that a degree does not assure that the surgeon who
operates on you will not make mistakes, nor that the lawyer you hire
will win your case.  Incompetence is present in all professions.
Nevertheless, I agree that we must make efforts to improve the
professional status of conservation and to increase the quality of
conservation practice.

John Burke disagrees with me when I have said that 95% of the
conservation in this country is done by non-AIC restorers, but my
surveys do indicate this is the case.  One reason the AMA came into
existence (aside from the issue of Money as Jack Thompson has
noted), was to give the public confidence that a doctor practiced
with methods which were based on experience and training. This did
not negate the fact that there were many self-trained doctors in the
19th century (or 3rd century B.C. for that matter) who were
effective healers.  The problem we have is to create the conditions
by which people who are good conservators can do better, can be
recognized and students can be assured that the education they
receive (academically or by apprenticeship) will be accepted.

One step in the right direction is the announcement by Barbara
Keyser of the new program at Queens for mid-career professionals.
This program allows people who have been in the field for years to
earn credentials and at the same time up-date their knowledge and
skills. It also is  an opportunity for the program to learn from the
conservators in the field.  While I doubt there are many
conservators in private practice who can take 8 months off to earn a
university degree, this is a beginning.

This brings up another point Bryan mentioned, that of recognition,
one which Jack has touched on too.  I noted in an earlier post that
I was surprised how many job offerings demanded applicants be
graduates of "recognized programs".  I pointed out that the ones I
inquired of all differed in how they regarded the existing programs,
but with 3 accepting the same ones.  What was surprising was that
all the representatives of the organizations offering the jobs
recognized the fact that there was no body that "recognized"

While there is a lot of recognition going on, it should be clear to
people that by stating in print that jobs are being restricted to
"recognized program" graduates makes the organization offering the
job liable if anyone is denied equal opportunity in applying for the
job on this basis.  Let's go over this again. There are no
officially "recognized programs in conservation".  Period. Generally
speaking, in the USA (and it varies in other countries) professional
organizations recognize educational programs in universities or in
practitioner's shops or other educational settings.  In some cases,
as in lawyers and doctors, the state or federal government is
involved to some extent.  But for conservation, there is no such
process.  To do so the AIC would have to set up a committee, develop
a body of guidelines (thanks Jack) and apply these in a manner
uniform and standard.  This is, I believe, a good idea, but it must
do so for both academic programs as well as apprentice programs.  I
fear, however, that since this discussion has been going on since I
came to conservation, I will not see the day.....

Niccolo Caldararo
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:85
                  Distributed: Wednesday, May 5, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-85-003
Received on Tuesday, 4 May, 1999

[Search all CoOL documents]