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Subject: Private practice in institutional lab

Private practice in institutional lab

From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo>
Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2001
Anne Lane <alane [at] rhtc__net> writes

>One of the thoughts being bandied about our institution right now is
>the concept of establishing a dual-duty conservation lab as part of
>a proposed new storage facility in a renovated school building. The
>proposal is to hire a staff conservator who, in addition to caring
>for our own stuff, would take on private commissions using the same
>facility.

It has been a popular misconception among museum directors that
conservation labs can be money machines or money pits.  In the early
1980s I suggested (heaven help me) to a museum director that in the
face of budget cuts the conservation labs might be able to offset
budget shortfalls with some limited outside work.  This was entirely
meant to be a short term solution, and primarily to pay for
equipment, reagents and library materials.  The outcome, however, in
case after case I have heard of since is that management looks at
the lab to make money not just cover costs and to cover the needs of
the collection too.  The only outcome, in my mind, is that the
collections suffer, the conservators stop doing research and
everything becomes income-driven.  The conservators will eventually
realize that they can make more money on the outside working for
themselves and will do so.  It is very difficult to manage a
situation where outside and internal demands are in conflict.
Perhaps someone can argue against me here?

Niccolo Caldararo
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:38
                Distributed: Saturday, January 13, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-38-006
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 9 January, 2001

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