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Subject: Significance assessment

Significance assessment

From: Veronica Bullock <bullconserves<-at->
Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Alison Foster <alifos3 [at] yahoo__co__uk> writes

>As part of my dissertation study I am exploring the use of
>significance/values based frameworks within conservation. I wonder
>if anyone has used, or regularly uses, a 'significance' or 'values'
>based framework to inform conservation decisions, and would have
>time to share their experiences of this, or have any written
>documentation regarding the process used.

I would be interested in your findings Alison as I've thought that
although it is important for conservators to understand and use
significance assessment to understand the context, provenance,
multiple meanings and values of a given object (i.e. beyond its
materiality) prior to making conservation decisions, I believe that
many may not have time to be this thorough. Specialist colleagues,
like curators in institutions, and other 'knowledgeable people'
associated with objects should be involved in significance
assessment. Through such collaborations the burden on the
conservator can therefore be reduced.

You will be aware of the Getty publications on this subject, and
Barbara Appelbaum's 2007 Conservation Treatment Methodology proposes
a particular framework that works for her. Offline discussion with
Barbara confirmed that the extent to which significance assessment
can be undertaken by a conservator in private practice depends to a
great extent on whether the client funds this component.

In response to the Moderator's direction to CALIPR I would counsel
against interpreting significance assessment of objects or
collections as equivalent to preservation needs assessments, risk
assessments, or value determinations, where value means monetary
value. (I have only read the introductory information about CALIPR
so please note that my comments are not based on a closer look at
that approach.)

If you haven't encountered it, the Australian significance
assessment method as most recently propounded in

    Significance 2.0: a guide to assessing the significance of

is a useful open framework for assessing the significance of any
object or collection. It is based on the very successful Burra
Charter approach to assessing the significance of places.

While this approach doesn't list dozens of specific values, the
process requires a 'statement of significance' to address whatever
values and meanings emerge prominently through the research process.
Step 10 of the process is really a managerial step after the
standalone assessment of significance (Steps 1-9). It is here that
decisions may be made about conservation / preservation, grant
applications, digitisation, management plan writing. Examples of
these are given in Part 6 of the publication.

I encourage you to summarise your findings on the Cons DistList,
and if possible provide a link to your thesis.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:3
                 Distributed: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
                        Message Id: cdl-27-3-002
Received on Tuesday, 25 June, 2013

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