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Subject: Conservation principles

Conservation principles

From: Frank Hassard <f.hassard>
Date: Sunday, June 18, 2006
Mark D. Gottsegen <mdgottsegen [at] earthlink__net> writes

>Frank Hassard <f.hassard [at] tiscali__co__uk> writes
>>A very well respected and senior member of the international
>>conservation community recently stated the following:
>>   "It is my belief that 'minimum-intervention' is an institutional
>>    ploy to save money and to cover up a lack of skills."

With regard to the initial statement

>"If institutions were given the proper degree of funding for their
>conservation labs, the first part of this statement would go away".

and your response in relation to museums:

>If institutions were given the proper degree of funding for their
>conservation labs, the first part of this statement would go away.

This response tends to reinforce the above hypothesis.

With regard to your other response:

>As for "skills," I have observed conservation students in programs
>and interns in "institutions" hard at work, learning.  None that I
>have seen seem to be incompetent. ...

This is very good to hear. Of course, this assessment depends on the
"eye" of the observer and the capabilities of the teacher.

In the United Kingdom conservation training courses in public
institutions, such as universities, in the domain of furniture and
decorative arts (for example)--which is a highly-skilled wood-based
discipline, award the honour of "Master of Art" and/or "Batchelor of
Arts" to students who do not know how to sharpen their tools. Even
some of the teachers do not know how to sharpen their tools.
According to trained craftspeople (some of which also teach
conservation--although they may be disqualified from the
conservation profession itself) both teachers and students lack
competence and/or proficiency--particularly in restoration which is
part of conservation practice. This is unavoidably reflected in the
work done and, of course, the technologies used in practice; hence
my search for examples of "non-like" restoration that require
greater practical expertise in order to disprove the assertion
stated above.

And my other question in relation to this:

>... Are "minimum
>intervention" and "reversibility"  conservation"s big cover-up--as
>the citation above suggests?

This question relates to conservation education and training (rather
than any particular practitioners) which forms the basis of the
conservation profession; many feel, for example in furniture and
decorative arts, that it is not a training at all.

Frank Hassard
PhD Research, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College
c/o Brunel University, United Kingdom

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:1
                  Distributed: Saturday, June 24, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-1-017
Received on Sunday, 18 June, 2006

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