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Subject: SCRME

SCRME

From: Jerry Podany <jpodany>
Date: Friday, April 6, 2001
The AIC has learned of  plans to close the Smithsonian Center for
Materials Research and Education at the end of December this year.
Clearly such an action raises grave concerns and the implications
raised by the fact that our nation can not, or will not, support a
resource of such importance are indeed troubling.  A letter has been
sent to Lawrence Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian and a copy
forwarded to Chief Justice William Rehnquist  and the Hon. Ralph
Regula  Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior
and Related Agencies expressing our concerns.  It is included below.
I would encourage you to write as well and take an active role in
objecting to this action.  Writing your Congressman would be a good
place to start.

    April 5, 2001

    Lawrence Small
    Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
    700 Jefferson Drive
    Washington, DC 20560
    Via Fax: 202-786-2515

    Dear Secretary Small:

    I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the upcoming
    announcement that the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research
    and Education (SCMRE) will be closed at the end of December. My
    concern is shared by the board of directors of the American
    Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, the
    entire AIC membership, and conservators both nationally and
    internationally.

    I realize that a shortfall in federal funding and a shift in
    organizational priorities within the Smithsonian place difficult
    and demanding challenges before your office.  However the
    implications and ultimate effect of eliminating one of the most
    valuable and essential resources to our nation's museums and to
    the efforts of cultural preservation around the world will be
    quite serious.

    For years, SCMRE has offered much-needed information and
    assistance to professionals working toward the better
    understanding and preservation of our nation's heritage.  The
    Center, in its research and application of both the physical and
    natural sciences to museum collections and archaeological sites,
    has provided one of the essential components necessary in
    preservation and stewardship. The symposia, exhibitions, and
    opportunities for both professional education and public
    outreach have been of enormous benefit in advancing conservation
    and preservation.  These efforts have also contributed broadly
    toward the public's deepening awareness of the value of our
    heritage and of the efforts made to maintain it.

    Certainly there is little need to bring to your attention the
    importance of appropriate stewardship.  You, yourself, have
    expressed a deep interest in the care of our nation's
    collections and have lauded the contributions of SCMRE, noting
    in particular that the recent exhibition "Santos: substance and
    soul" resulted in a deeper comprehension of the world's shared
    cultural heritage through the fruitful combination of technical
    studies, cultural studies, and educational outreach.

    SCMRE has indeed contributed a great deal.  The Center's
    research on environmental conditions for art, artifacts and
    collections, whether in transit, on exhibition, or in storage,
    has set new standards and has raised probing and important
    questions.  The Center has championed appropriate site
    preservation and carried out materials research with direct and
    practical importance.  A recent example of such research is
    being carried out on the degradation of cellulose products,
    which has considerable implications for the storage, use and
    long-term preservation of our nation's archives.  These are only
    a few of the many achievements and the substantial contributions
    made by the thirty staff members of the Center and by the many
    interns who have trained there and then have branched out
    internationally to continue their professional careers.  The
    mission of the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and
    Education has been to act as a resource to the nation, to the
    nation's museums, and people.  They have done this and more.
    They have acted to support stewardship in the most responsible
    manner possible and they have been exemplary ambassadors of our
    nation's concern for the long-term preservation of our shared
    world heritage.

    The closing of the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and
    Education will be a devastating loss to the nation and to the
    nation's museums. The message sent to our nation and to the
    international community by this action will directly reflect the
    value our government agencies place upon our shared cultural
    property.  Ultimately, both the national and international
    efforts toward cultural preservation will be diminished by this
    decision. This is not the message we should be sending.

    Respectfully,

    Jerry Podany
    President The American Institute for Conservation
        of Historic and Artistic Works

    CC: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist,
    Chancellor of the Board of Regents for the Smithsonian
    U.S. Supreme Court
    One First Street, NE
    Washington, DC 20543

    The Hon. Ralph Regula
    Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for
    Interior and Related Agencies

    Dr. J. Dennis O'Connor
    Assistant Secretary for Science
    Smithsonian Institution
    700 Jefferson Drive
    Washington, DC 20560

Jerry Podany
President, AIC


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:52
                   Distributed: Friday, April 6, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-52-001
                                  ***
Received on Friday, 6 April, 2001

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