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Subject: New online forum: ALTCONS

New online forum: ALTCONS

From: Dennis Piechota <dennis.piechota<-at->
Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
In our daily work, our online groups, meetings and publications we
focus on treatment methods.  That's great; we're an applied field.
Only occasionally do we discuss the underlying assumptions and
'high' theory that we share as we apply these methods.  I think our
field is now at a point where such discussions may help further its
development by increasing our professional self-awareness.

So believing that good things sometimes start from the ground up
I've started a new Google Group, ALTCONS

"Alternative Conservation Discussions".

Please join the discussion by signing up at


and posting your thoughts to altcons<-at->googlegroups<.>com

As examples here are three topics I've started for your

Conservators are not scientists. We work every day in the space we
have created between science and the humanities.  Yet we constantly
appeal to science to authorize our methods at the same time that
research scientists distance themselves from our applications.  We
make appeals to the humanities while its researchers distance
themselves from our materials-based approach.  Can we build a
unified conservation theory without appealing to our reluctant

Conservators see the world in a unique way. Place a jumble of
tableware in front of an archaeologist and a conservator.  The
archaeologist will see them as knives, forks and spoons; the
conservator will see them as ferrous, cuprous and argentous. This
way of seeing has value as an interpretive viewpoint.  What would an
'interpretive conservation' look like? What would happen to our
ethics and our place in the academy if we deliberately treated
objects interpretively?

Conservators must act. Under conditions of high stress and
uncertainty conservators must sometimes make irrevocable decisions.
We must act; whether we choose to do nothing or choose some radical
treatment we act.  This is an unusual job requirement when compared
with our colleagues pursuing art historical and archaeological
research.  How does it affect our approach to decision making and to
the historic materials we act upon?

Dennis Piechota
Archaeological Conservator
Fiske Center for Archaeological Research
University of Massachusetts
Office: 617-287-6829
Altcons Group Admin

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:19
                Distributed: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
                       Message Id: cdl-27-19-009
Received on Tuesday, 29 October, 2013

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