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Subject: AIC certification plan

AIC certification plan

From: Shelley M. Smith <pixelounge<-a>
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008
With regard to the response by the certification Task Force where
it's stated that:

>In addition to the AIC Bylaws, Code of Ethics, and Guidelines for
>Practice, AIC has published Defining the Conservator: Essential
>Competencies.  These documents can be found on the current AIC
>website under Core Documents.  A certification program will not
>define qualifications of professional conservators beyond these
>documents, but it will provide guidance to end users of conservation
>services.  An end user (such as a government agency, museum staff
>member, or a collector) ...

As a Canadian who recently went through the Employment Based
Greencard experience I was unable to use the AIC core documents to
support my claim that a Conservator is a Specialty Occupation.  This
was a disappointing revelation since it seems that it should be
fairly simple to prove since I have a Master's degree in the subject
and a professional organization, the, AIC to back up my claims, but
this was not the case.  The language in these documents was in fact
detrimental to my application, and so much so that in the end I had
to exclude all of it.  Instead, I had to rely on letters kindly
written for me by staff from museums and regional labs to state the
current hiring practices for those entering the field now and
explain why we are, as a profession highly specialised.  I believe
that the AIC can and should do more work to meet the needs of both
conservators and the end users that were listed, the current core
documents do not do either adequately.

For example, one of the endusers noted was The Federal Government,
but they currently classify us as "Conservators and Museum
technicians" despite the fact that the Feds consult with
professional organizations to define themselves. Curators or
Librarians have their own categories in the DOL Department of Labor
Occupational Handbook.

By the time we get certification going, those conservators who
entered the field from broader ranging backgrounds and avenues 15 or
20 years ago are very well established and have nothing to fear from
changing the current definition in core documents which as they
stand today are out of date.  What work has the AIC done for
conservators to advocate for our profession on the Federal level?  I
have not seen a report on this, perhaps I missed it?  If museums
recognized us as vital to the staff as are curators and technicians
(who are usually found in any and every museum staff) then they
would demand that we become certified in our profession and raise
the bar from the top down so to speak.

A good pilot project would be to have the Federal institutions
require certification and cover the costs for their staff to get it,
see how it goes, and then other museums, and later on conservators
in private practise, follow suit if it proves useful for furthering
our profession.

Years ago, curators and Librarians could enter their field any
number of ways as well, but their definition is current and ours is
not.  What about AAM, what standards of preservation do they demand
to lend their certification to museums?  If AAM relies on our core
documents and the Federal Department of Labor then we have a weak
case.  Employers use the DOL not only to classify us, but to
determine education, training, job description, and wages. Why would
a museum hire a conservator when the DOL states they can hire
someone with a liberal arts degree or certificate to do the same job
as someone with a Masters degree in Art Conservation. We as a
professional group continue to lag behind others.

    DOL Department on Labor Occupation handbook:
    25-4013 Museum Technicians and Conservators

       "Prepare specimens, such as fossils, skeletal parts, lace,
        and textiles, for museum collection and exhibits. May
        restore documents or install, arrange, and exhibit

Shelley Smith

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:36
                 Distributed: Monday, December 15, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-36-008
Received on Tuesday, 9 December, 2008

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