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Subject: History of preventive conservation

History of preventive conservation

From: Wendy Claire Jessup <prevcon<-at->
Date: Saturday, April 18, 2009
Mojdeh Momenzadeh <mojdehmomenzadeh [at] yahoo__com> writes

>I am doing research on preventive conservation and I am asked to
>include a section on history of preventive conservation. I searched
>a lot but could not find enough data on this. Does anyone have a
>suggestion for research resources?

I know that there will be others who can contribute to this and fill
in information that I may miss--especially with respect to
development of the specialization outside of North American--but I
hope that the following will help:

Although issues associated with preventive conservation such as
identification of damage factors have been acknowledged for many
decades, it wasn't until the late 1970s/early 1980s when we began to
realize that it was necessary to look holistically at collections
environment and collections care.  If you look back through the AIC
archives, you should be able to find reference to the work that
Arthur Beale and others did to advocate for the development of the
Collections Care Specialist. In 1983, the Smithsonian Institution
created the first full-time position in collections care/preventive
conservation that I am aware of.  I held the position from 1983 -

ICCROM and the University of London presented courses in various
aspects of preventive conservation starting in the 1980s and
International Academic Projects continues with this today.

In the mid-1980s the Bay Foundation funded the Pilot Program in
Collections Care which was held for two years (1985 and 1986) in
four locations.  The National Park Service picked up some of this
and provided training in aspects of preventive conservation from the
mid 1980s through much of the 1990s: this was concurrent with the
development of and revisions to the NPS Museum Handbook and the
Conserve-O-Grams.  Therefore you might look at the evolution of the
NPS Museum Handbook as well as the Conserve-O-Grams to see how they
have developed and changed.

Stephan Michalski and others at CCI have been developing the field
and have made enormous contributions since the early 1980s with the
development of CCI Notes, the Framework for Preventive Conservation,
and the Light Damage calculator.  You might be able to get
information through the CCI archives. Likewise, there have been
major contributions to the field that have been made by conservators
and scientists at the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art.

In the mid- to late 1980s Carolyn Rose and others worked  through
Heritage Preservation (then the National Institute for Conservation)
on collections surveys and assessments and the development of the
Conservation Assessment Program with generous funding by the Getty
Conservation Institute.  In the late 1980s, the Getty assembled a
group of conservators, engineers and architects to develop the
curriculum for the course "Preventive Conservation: Museum
Collections and Their Environment".  I served on that committee and
as the course moderator for the 5 years that it was held in North
America at the GCI.  It was then "taken on the road" to Latin
America and there were "pilot programs" held in the UK and a few
trial lectures/courses at the University of Delaware Winterthur
Conservation Program, again generously supported by the Getty.   You
might want to check to see what you can find through Heritage
Preservation and the Getty.

Since then Winterthur has incorporated Preventive Conservation into
its conservation program and University College London has
incorporated it as part of its program in Sustainable Preservation.

In 1994, IIC had the first conference devoted to Preventive
Conservation - you might check the conference organizers and
presenters for their in-put. The discipline has greatly expanded
since then and there have been excellent publications on various
aspects of Preventive Conservation--again you might check with the
authors of these publications for their in-put.

I recall reading that someone is writing a book on the history of
preventive conservation.  Hopefully, they will be in touch with you.

My apologies to anyone who has contributed to the development of the
specialization that I may not have acknowledged. As I write this, I
keep thinking of others from whose work I have learned as I have
developed my practice, but haven't the time right now to mention.

Hope this helps.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if
I can provide additional guidance.

Wendy Claire Jessup
President and Conservator
Wendy Jessup and Associates, Inc.
Care of Cultural Property
933 N. Kenmore Street, Suite 323
Arlington, VA 22201
Fax: 703-522-2802

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:62
                  Distributed: Sunday, April 26, 2009
                       Message Id: cdl-22-62-001
Received on Saturday, 18 April, 2009

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