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Subject: Accreditation


From: Janet W. Hessling <hessling>
Date: Monday, May 10, 1999
I have been following this debate with interest.  My two cents'
worth: it was some of the "grandfathers" and " grandmothers"  (eg.
Sheldon and Caroline Keck, Lawrence Majewski, et al.) who decided
that graduate training and credentials would be a good thing for the
field, turning a trade into a profession.  I think it is impossible
today for an art historian to be hired by a major museum without at
least an MA and preferably a PhD. in hand.  Yet many museum
conservators have the skills and knowledge--and the jobs--without
the degrees.  And conservators can make a living in private
practice, which I don't think is an option for art historians. As
for AIC v non-AIC conservators, I would estimate that only about 1/3
of the c. 3000 members of AIC are products of the graduate schools.
Based on the age of the programs and the rate of graduation of, say,
30 to 40 per year, there can hardly be more than that, even if all
graduates were members.  So, who is the organization serving and
aiming to legitimize as professionals?  And of course there's that
vast uncounted pool of conservators (restorers?) who aren't AIC
members, some of whom are in fact program graduates, going about
their business without the protection or verification of AIC.

Since most of the public is apparently unaware of AIC and its
"authority" in the field, I suspect those independent conservators
are doing quite nicely, thank you, at making a living, whatever
their skills or documentation practices, which may be to the highest
standards (guidelines?).  Until the public at large are made
knowledgeable enough to demand credentials from practitioners, there
is no reason for most of those practitioners to worry about it.  It
seems to me this raising of awareness and expectations of the public
for conservation and its practitioners is the most important role of
AIC today.  What good are professional credentials if no one else
knows or cares what they mean?

Janet W. Hessling
private conservator (MA, SUNY-Buffalo and AIC prof. assoc.)
Durham, NC

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:86
                   Distributed: Monday, May 10, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-86-016
Received on Monday, 10 May, 1999

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