Collaborate, learn, and network with your colleagues both in person and online. Attend our annual meeting, the largest conference in North America for conservation professionals.


  • We are offering a full week of six pre-session seminars May 3-7 at no additional cost beyond your base registration for the virtual meeting.
  • Click buttons below learn more and read panelist biographies.
  • The Socratic Dialogue on May 6 and the Datathon on May 7 have limited attendance and require free pre-registration.

May 3, 12:00 – 3:00 PM ET

How Museums and Communities Collaborate for Loans: Adapting Museum Loan Standards to Reach Wider Audiences

This session convenes museum conservators and allied professionals from both museums and tribal community centers around the country. This session will include presentations of individual case studies and longer-term, collaborative loan programs. Both lenders and borrowers will present an array of loan scenarios and creative solutions to encourage and support this important use of museum collections, including by borrowers, who may have previously been excluded because of strict museum loan procedures. The institutional support, procedures, and funding needed to support community loans will be discussed. The session format will include presentations and a guided discussion with session participants and attendees. This session will be divided into two sections: presentations of individual case studies and presentations of collaborative loan programs.


May 4, 12:00 – 1:30 pm ET

A Virtual Transformation of Couriering: The Role of the Conservator

The Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly altered how museums lend and borrow art. The redefinition of the role of the courier in ensuring the safety of the art has been the most significant change. International and national limits on travel have required museums to quickly embrace new technology, evaluate and outline best practices, and endeavor to build upon trusted networks in conservation to ensure from afar that traveling loans are safely handled and transported. The move towards virtual couriers started as Directors’ initiatives pre-Covid-19 in order to lower budgets and carbon footprints, and have now accelerated because of the global pandemic. Additionally, these new systems have been bolstered by the rise of data-analytics driven art logistics and the reduction in size and costs of data loggers and trackers. Virtual couriers have become a reality overnight for many institutions. In this panel we aim to examine the role conservators have to play in adapting loan practices and documentation to ensure the safety of the art during transit and installation/ deinstallation.


May 5 – 12:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Leather Selection and Use: a panel discussion on the impact of conservators' choices

Leatherworkers face many choices regarding leather selection and use and there is little guidance regarding the ways these choices and subsequent actions could affect leather’s longevity. 

The Leather Discussion Group, formed in 2016 by book conservators, wants to expand the discussion to leather users and conservators across other disciplines.  How do conservators across disciplines approach leather use?  The primary focus of this panel discussion will be on leather added to the object during repair, such as when a book is re-backed, rather than consolidation or treatment of deteriorated leather. 

Historically, leather was a stable, reliable repair material for many generations.  However, leather production, including tanning practices, animal husbandry, and available tannins, dyes, and fatliquors have all changed since the Industrial Revolution.  Conservation techniques are regularly reevaluated and leather use is no exception.   Some historic and modern leather treatments differ significantly, and naturally aged samples indicate some treatments may affect the leather’s longevity more than others.  How do these changes affect leather use across disciplines?   

Specialist tanners and leather experts are willing to work with conservators to achieve ideal leather qualities.  Projects focusing on leather quality and longevity started in the early twentieth century and continue to the present day.  If an ideal leather is produced, what are the requirements for this leather across disciplines? Which qualities factor into production and selection for conservators?

The Leather Discussion Group is investigating what is being done in other parts of the world and collaborating with European conservators.  The goal is to compare both modern and historic practices in Europe and the United States and the group welcomes further international input to the conversation to determine a holistic interpretation of leather use, treatment, and selection. 

What can we learn from each other?  Let’s talk!  The Leather Discussion Group is interested in facilitating a cross disciplinary dialogue and welcomes input from all leather users.


May 6, 12:00 – 2:00 PM

Socratic dialogue: Systematic racism, objects and monuments in cultural heritage conservation

Free Registration Required

Limit: 48 attendees

The year 2020 has brought the problem of systematic racism in the United States and other former Western colonial powers explosively to the forefront. The cultural heritage conservation profession is now also confronted with the fact that, as noted in the AIC call for submissions, “racism has shaped our discipline from its beginning. And further, “we cannot shirk the work required to address it. It is time to transform cultural heritage conservation.” Initiating and making this transformation will not be easy. Systematic racism in conservation is a broad and complex issue. Issues of diversity or questions of what to do with objects and monuments which are symbols of colonialism and slavery are being hotly debated, for example, in AIC community blogs and during recent annual conferences. Emotions run high, presenting a major obstacle to finding answers and solutions to dilemmas which are presented by these issues.

In the continuing series of such dialogues at AIC annual meetings, a Socratic dialogue is thus proposed for the 2021 annual meeting in Jacksonville, FL. to investigate what lies behind such emotions when discussing issues of systematic racism in the conservation profession. The dialogue will focus on how conservation professionals deal with objects and monuments ranging from those enabled by the riches of colonial practices to those which outright glorify racial supremacy and colonial conquests.

A Socratic dialogue is a structured form of dialogue in which all participants actively contribute. The purpose of the dialogue is not to answer the question at hand, that is, how to deal with such objects and monuments, but to investigate each other’s experience and points of view on the issue. The focus on objects is a tool used in the Socratic method to help participants elicit their personal experience, providing the starting point for investigating their own views and those of others on systematic racism in the conservation profession. The Socratic method provides a safe, open environment for participants to discover what the essence is behind their own points of view as well as those of others.

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May 6 – 3-5 PM ET

Paving the Path for Choosing Safe Materials for Display

Placing collections on display assumes risk to the long-term preservation of the object with the trade-off that the piece is providing insight, appreciation, or fulfilment.  But we also assume that the risk should not be larger than necessary or out of line with the benefits of exhibition.  Choosing safe materials for the construction of cases and mounts is one of the variables that impact the preservation of an item on display.  But with limitless possibilities in exhibition design comes a confusion of how to limit unnecessary damage. How do museum professionals make smart choices on what is safe to use?  Where do we find the data that informs our decision making? To what resources can we turn?

As information becomes more easily accessible than ever, conservation and preservation professionals are increasingly relying on online content for decision making.  We prioritize free, accessible, and practical resources from trusted organizations.  Also, we like to see information aggregated in a way that provides diagnostic tools, compelling visuals and links to suppliers and vendors (Lambert et. al., 2018). 

Over the past three years AIC’s Materials Selection & Specification Working Group (MWG) has brought allied organizations and professionals together to identify needs and develop content that will help cultural heritage professionals choose and use materials that will not harm our collections while on display.  The Working Group is crowdsourcing knowledge, conducting primary research, and developing new tools to create a portal that aids in decision making, points to available data, and vets and aggregates current information on choosing safe exhibition materials.

This presentation will provide an update on the tools and resources created by the MWG and encourage the cultural heritage community to become involved in pushing these ambitious projects forward.


May 7, 12:00 – 3 PM ET

String Cleaning: A Conservation Datathon to Get Your Data in Shape

Free Registration Required

Limit: 48 attendees

The conservation datathon will be an opportunity for individuals interested in data-driven projects to engage with a predetermined data set to learn and try out different data analysis tools with guidance. This program aims to draw from participants of an FAIC workshop, Data Analysis and Visualization for Conservators, offered in early 2021, as well as all the AIC membership who are interested in this topic. Similar to a "hackathon", participants of the datathon will be given access to a single data set and will engage in cleaning, analysis, and visualization of that data. The data set will be selected from existing, readily available data with interest across conservation specialties. For example, the set may comprise artist resource materials, environmental data, the Heritage Health Index, or another broad conservation topic. An overview of various tools and software will be presented at the beginning of the program, then the participants will be placed in small groups to work with the data sets. Instructors will be available to assist the groups as they work, making the event appropriate for those who do not have experience with this approach. The program will finish with brief presentations from the groups that wish to share their results.

The program could be delivered in person or virtually, and the only requirement for registration is access to a computer. All software explored in the datathon will be open source. Depending on the number of available instructors, attendance may be capped at a certain number to ensure the participants receive adequate assistance.

The goal of the session is to familiarize the audience with a broad survey of data driven tools and methods that can be applied to similar situations they may encounter. This event will be appropriate for conservators with a wide range of experience levels of working with data as well as areas of conservation specialties, making it an opportunity for dynamic collaboration.

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