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

Subject: SCMRE


From: Helena Jaeschke <mrshjaeschke>
Date: Friday, April 27, 2001
    **** Moderator's comments: Please respond directly to
    Elizabeth Stone <ecstone [at] rcn__com>

At last someone has come up with a sensible way of handling email
petitions. If you would like to join this protest against the
Smithsonian cuts, please read the enclosed letter (below) and send
your name, dept and university or company to ecstone [at] rcn__com, not to

    From: Elizabeth Stone <ecstone [at] rcn__com>
    Subject: Proposed Smithsonian closings
    Date: 26 Apr 2001

    Hi, I'm managing a letter to be sent to try to stop the
    Smithsonian from closing their center for object conservation
    and materials science.  I enclose the text below.

    If you are willing to have your names added as signatures, could
    you email me back with your name, title, department and
    university all on different lines, so that I can cut and paste
    them into the letter.  Also if you have a broader email
    circulation list for other archaeologists, could you send it out
    to them to see if they want to be added.  The more names we can
    get the better.  The board of the Smithsonian meets on May 6th,
    the letter is addressed to Renquist, who is the chairman of the
    board, with copies to the Secretary, the other members of the
    board and the congressmen and senators in the oversight
    committees.  If you have already written to them either
    regarding this, or to the proposed closing of the conservation
    biology part of the zoo, that does not matter, since this is a
    letter signed by a broader constituency.

    Here is the text:

        The undersigned archaeologists strongly urge a
        reconsideration of the decision by Smithsonian Secretary
        Lawrence Small to close the Smithsonian Center for Materials
        Research and Education (SCMRE). SCMRE performs a critical
        role in the two central missions of the Smithsonian: 1. to
        enable the holding of "artifacts and scientific specimens in
        trust for 'the increase and diffusion of knowledge'", and 2.
        To serve as "a center for research dedicated to public
        education, national service, and scholarship in the arts,
        sciences, and history."

        The collections of the Smithsonian attract large numbers of
        visitors every year who expect to increase their knowledge
        of the arts, science and history through their interaction
        with the exhibits. The long term care of these collections
        must, then, be a top priority in meeting the Smithsonian's
        responsibility for the stewardship of the nation's
        treasures. At its inception SCMRE (then known as the
        Conservation Analytical Laboratory--CAL) served as the only
        conservation laboratory for most of the Institution. With
        the development of individual museum based conservation
        programs, SCMRE's mandate was changed to focus its efforts
        in collection care on developing new techniques of
        conservation, examining larger questions of the long term
        viability of materials in museum environments, and building
        a high impact training program in conservation and
        conservation science. The work has been of direct benefit
        not only to the constellation of arts and science museums of
        the Smithsonian, but to museums around the country and the
        world. Surely leadership in the science of object
        conservation is a natural and expected role for the
        Smithsonian. In fact, there is no other center for
        conservation science in the country that fills this need.

        SCMRE also plays a critical role in bringing scholars in the
        arts and humanities together with the techniques and
        approaches of the natural and physical sciences. Materials
        research conducted at SCMRE applies cutting edge analytical
        methods, such as neutron activation analysis, electron
        microscopy and molecular biology to the study of
        archaeological artifacts, skeletal remains, and other
        materials. Through this process, the artifacts held by the
        Smithsonian and at museums and universities worldwide, can
        be made to tell far richer stories relating to the history
        of technology, methods of manufacture, the process of trade
        and exchange, and the evolution of our own species. The
        training and outreach component of this work, engaging
        Native Americans and Latinos in the study of their own
        material cultural heritage, has served as a model for the
        inclusion of wider constituencies in scientific research.
        Once again there is no other comparable center in the United
        States since the range of expertise represented, and the
        range of techniques developed in the SCMRE is not possible
        in a university setting where the departmental structure
        makes such interdisciplinary work very difficult.

        It seems to us extraordinarily short sighted to cut an
        internationally respected research center with so broad and
        critical a role for the maintenance and study of museum
        materials. The proposed cuts would not only greatly diminish
        the Smithsonian's ability to maintain and study its own
        collections, but would leave the Nation without an
        institution that would ensure that these skills were passed
        on to the rest of the country. Again, we strongly urge you
        to reconsider the decision to close the SCMRE.

Helena Jaeschke
Archaeological Conservator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:57
                  Distributed: Friday, April 27, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-57-003
Received on Friday, 27 April, 2001

[Search all CoOL documents]

URL: http://