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Subject: Conservation principles

Conservation principles

From: George Brock-Nannestad <pattac>
Date: Sunday, September 24, 2006
Richard Fuller <frichard [at] region__waterloo__on__ca> writes

>I don't wish to belabour the subject but I would like to reply to
>George Brock-Nannestad <pattac[at]image_dk> regarding his comments
>concerning my posting of Aug. 28, 2006
>...
>... Of course, the application of heat or other techniques, that
>could partially alter the information content of an artifact, should
>be carefully considered before treatment.

That was precisely my point: to make aware of the fact that
information is partially altered.

>The focus of my comments here was to add to the discussion that that
>repairs are not necessarily 'modifications' of artifacts, depending
>on the type and history of those objects.
>
>>Personal thrill at the expense of future quests for knowledge has no
>>place in a public museum environment. Wear patterns and repairs may
>>be practiced on worn-down replicas. ...
>
>Goodness gracious, we wouldn't want to to be 'thrilled' by an
>artifact (I'm sure many museum directors dream of such a visitor
>reaction)!

I was talking about the personal thrill of the museum director
making a point out of "exercising" the vehicles in his care (see
Oddy 1994 below, p. 135, points 8 - 17.)

>In any case, I'm not talking about personal choices but
>about organizations that have a specific approach to the use of
>certain artifacts in their interpretive programs. Individuals, such
>as conservators, are employed by these publicly operated bodies. Mr.
>Brock-Nannestad may be surprised to know that museums that extend
>the intended function of some artifacts are staffed by knowledgeable,
>professionally trained people who are not interested in thwarting
>"future quests for knowledge" and have equal status in determining
>the ethical standards for the use of artifact collections under
>their responsibilities.

There is little that I can add to this ideal world that is better
expressed than in the following important literature references: (no
particular order)

    Kirby Talley Jr., M:
    "Conservation, Science and Art: Plum Puddings, Towels and Some
    Steam" Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.
    271-83 (1997)

    Clavir, M.:
    "The Social and Historic Construction of Professional Values in
    Conservation", Studies in Conservation, Vol. 43, pp. 1-8 (1998)

    Macfarlane, C.:
    "Industrial Collections: Care and Conservation: A Curator's
    Perspective" Conservation News, No. 64, November 1997 pp. 28-9
    [Conf Reports]

    Oddy, A. (Ed.):
    "Restoration: Is It Acceptable?" British Museum Occasional Paper
    99, whole volume, 1994

However, I still think that maximising the information preserved,
irrespective of the role of the artefact, must be the first concern.

George Brock-Nannestad


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:17
               Distributed: Thursday, September 28, 2006
                       Message Id: cdl-20-17-006
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Received on Sunday, 24 September, 2006

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