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Opening & Concurrent General Sessions

For anyone who missed the deadline and grace period not covered by the above message – we will take late submissions on a case-by-case basis. It is up to the review committee of the session(s) you are applying for if your late abstract will be reviewed. In general, the sooner you can submit your abstract the greater likelihood it will be reviewed. If you are unsure about whether to submit an abstract – please reach out to for more information.

Submit  Instructions

Consider the following opening and concurrent general sessions as you prepare abstracts. These sessions must address the themes listed below.

Opening General Session

  • On Thursday, May 18, 2023, from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, we will offer a fast-paced session of 12-minute talks centered on the meeting theme "Conservation in the Age of Environmental, Social, and Economic Climate Change."
  • If you are submitting an abstract for this session, please select it as your first choice. We will also consider all abstracts submitted for this session for the concurrent general sessions.

Concurrent General Sessions

On Friday, May 19, 2023, from 2:00-5:30 pm, we will offer multiple tracks of talks centered around the meeting theme, "Conservation in the Age of Environmental, Social, and Economic Climate Change."

  • We are holding calls for four topic-focused sessions (chaired by members who responded to the previous call for session proposals) plus one open call.
  • Presentation length should be 18-20 minutes to allow about 10 minutes for questions and discussion. 


Chairs: Jacek Olender and Alexandra Bridarolli

One of the most serious implications of climate change is the increase in frequency, length and severity of extreme weather events. As we know, both artist and conservation materials present in heritage objects respond to some degree to changes in surrounding environment, what can cause large dimensional changes leading to mechanical fatigue and damage. Facing this changing, more extreme climate, it is safe to assume that the risk of mechanical damage caused by these extreme events will increase, especially for objects in collections present in historic buildings without active environmental control or during transport. However, it is only through the exact knowledge on how each particular material and unit composing the objects in our collections will react to these new environmental conditions, that the design of adapted preservation countermeasures will be made possible.

We welcome papers on topics revolving around:

  • Mechanical responses of artist and conservation materials to changing/unstable environmental conditions and/or exposure to extreme weather conditions.
  • Mechanical fatigue resulting from extreme weather.
  • Testing and modelling methods that will allow for assessment of such risks, prevent damage and help design countermeasures.
  • In-situ monitoring of material mechanical response to changing environmental conditions.
  • Closely related to any of the topics above.


Chairs: Lisa Goldberg and Roxane Sperber

A neutral stance has long been held as a central tenant for collection care professionals charged with preserving cultural heritage. The “Museums Are Not Neutral” campaign came about in 2017 after a Twitter exchange between La Tanya Autry and Mike Murawski in which they discussed their frustrations with the idea that museums have a neutral viewpoint free of bias. Their discussion changed conversations around all facets of museum work from curatorial practice to conservation and collections care by calling into question the long held tenet that this work is neutral. Their critique can be useful in exploring our responses to the big challenges of our time including combatting the climate crisis, confronting racism within our field, and remaining financially solvent. It also provides a framework to advance goals relating to collection care and access, environmental, social, and financial sustainability. What constitutes good stewardship is rapidly evolving and reframing the concept of neutrality; these explorations and discussions require us to re-evaluate how our actions or inactions affect our efforts to preserve collections for future generations. This session will focus on how the pretense of neutrality perpetuates inaction and fails us, specifically in light of how we preserve cultural heritage while facing the interconnected challenges of sustainable change. We are looking for papers that examine the myriad factors that play into how conservators make sustainable choices affecting preventive care across our full range of specialties and job duties. We would like to receive submissions, including but not limited to:

  • How approaches to collection care change when we confront our lack of neutrality
  • Reconciling conflicting priorities for preservation, cultural sustainability, and collection care
  • Practices in collection care and conservation that encourage community participation, especially by those who have been historically excluded
  • How action and practice in collection care and conservation confront the discomfort of the realities of climate and social change
  • Examples of how our inaction or resistance to change can hinder our progress toward environmental, social, and financial sustainable collection care


Chair: Keats Webb

As the conference theme elicits, we are facing changes on many fronts (environmental, social, economic), and imaging does not sit in isolation from these. We hope that this session will stimulate dialogue on how conservation imaging can acknowledge and address these changes.

  • Environmental – Imaging relies on digital technologies that have environmental impacts that are not always discussed or addressed. We invite presentations that discuss or bring awareness to resource and energy consumption and environmental costs in digital technologies or digitization. Another perspective would be the use of imaging to address preservation needs and documenting disappearing heritage including the ways we can achieve this and how it inevitably falls short.
  • Social – The decisions that we make about imaging and working with objects and sites are influenced by our identities and cultures and the history and culture around photography and museums. We invite presentations that present social considerations and impacts that might include but are not limited to decolonization and conservation documentation; reflecting on power, authority, privilege, truth and/or reliability as they relate to imaging; and community and stakeholder engagement.
  • Economic – We invite presentations that discuss low-cost, easy to access imaging tools, their advantages and limitations, and environmental and social impact. The format for this session would include both standard paper presentations as well as a panel discussion.


Chair: Dr. W. (Bill) Wei

One of the main issues behind the theme of the AIC 51st annual meeting is sustainability in conservation in the broadest sense of the word. While this is often taken as related to the environment and climate change, the meeting summary also notes that, “Conservation is an inherently hopeful pursuit. We hope through our actions to preserve the legacy of humanity for future generations. We hope … to tell richer, more nuanced stories of individuals and cultures.”

The use of the phrase “legacy of humanity for future generations” is quite broad. This raises the fundamental question of what it is that we really want to preserve and for whom. This question also lies at the core of the issue of heritage sustainability. The cultural heritage profession has the reputation of wanting to “save everything”, which, in the long run, is not sustainable. During this session we therefore would like to invite talks from cultural heritage professionals providing personal answers to questions such as,

  1. Why do you want to preserve cultural heritage?
  2. For which generation(s) do you want to preserve cultural heritage?
  3. What specifically do you want to preserve for future generations?

We are looking for contributions from the entire cultural heritage profession, not only conservators, but also community care-takers, conservation scientists, curators, historians, museum and collection managers, preservation specialists, rapid response specialists, etc. The session of talks will conclude with a panel Q&A discussion with the speakers.


Submit abstracts that fit the conference theme but not any of the sub-sessions above.