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Specialty Sessions

Specialty Session program committees sometimes plan specific calls that are different from the call for general sessions.  

Architecture

The Architecture Specialty Groups seeks abstracts in all specialties that touch on the broad field that is the built environment! We will consider all abstracts, including those that follow the conference theme.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Examining the history of the architectural conservation field within the broader conservation and historic preservation fields, its practice, and practitioners.
  • Contemporary approaches to the preservation and treatment of historic structures and sites.
  • Planning and preventive maintenance of historic buildings and sites. 
  • New testing methodologies and materials characterization studies.
  • Literature reviews or surveys on standard conservation treatments, historic building materials, and construction methodologies, among other relevant subjects. 
  • Approaches that address the challenges of conserving historic buildings and collections care.
  • New technologies for the assessment and documentation of historic buildings, structures, and sites.
  • Treatment challenges and lessons learned.
  • Compromises or modifications to traditional conservation approaches made for sustainability reasons: how these decisions were made, by whom, and the positive and negative impacts. 
  • Projects as a learning opportunity: lessons learned from "unexpected" situations, unsuccessful treatments, etc.
  • Case Studies involving partnerships with other conservation professionals and collaboration across specialties and disciplines are strongly encouraged. 

Talks should be a maximum of 15 minutes in length in order to have 40 minutes for the panel discussion. Presenters should plan to be in person for the panel. The Architecture Specialty Group will publish postprints from each talk following the meeting. 

For questions or further information, please contact the ASG Program Chair, Héctor J. Berdecia-Hernandez (berdeciah@gmail.com), and/or ASG Chair, Brooke Russell (brussell@evergreene.com).


Architecture and Preventive Care Session

The Architectural Specialty Group (ASG) and the Preventive Care Network (PCN) seek abstracts for a joint session: Constancy and Compromise: Conversations about Meeting the Needs of Historic Buildings and their Collections.

We are seeking abstracts that: address, examine, and discuss existing gaps between the care and maintenance of historic buildings and the preventive care of collections, as well as practical sustainable approaches, the impacts of new innovative materials and environmental systems, and planning challenges for collection care.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Challenges in collaboration and communication between built heritage and collections care professionals.
  • Integrating the needs of collections care vs. architectural conservation projects.
  • Building maintenance practices and reconciling the needs of collection care.
  • Alternative environmental monitoring strategies, especially for underfunded institutions or buildings that represent unique challenges, and within non-tempered regions.
  • Institutional policies and address gaps between the care of historic buildings and collections (institutional preservation policies & policies at the state and national level).
  • Re-evaluating existing methodologies and approaches, use of new technologies and other topics in conducting building assessments when they are combined with collection assessments.
  • Reexamining the Joint AIC/APT Charter on the Preservation of Historic Structures and Artifacts after 30 years (1992).
  • Other topics that address preventive care when the historic building is the largest collection item for an institution and its needs collide with those of the other collections. 

This session will consist of 20-minute presentations and will include a guided discussion panel. Presenters should plan to be in person for the panel. We will be publishing joint ASG-PCN written postprints following the meeting.

Please contact the ASG Program Chair, Héctor J. Berdecia-Hernandez (berdeciah@gmail.com), and PCN Program Chair, Lisa Goldberg (lgoldberg@lgpreservation.com) with any questions.


Archaeological Heritage and Preventive Care Session

The preventive care of archaeological collections and sites is a vital aspect of the long-term preservation of these complex, sensitive materials. The Archaeological Heritage Network (AHN) and the Preventive Care Network (PCN) seeks papers that reflect this importance.


Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Housing and storage materials, methods, and environments for archaeological materials
  • Site preservation methods such as reburial, or built structures
  • On-site artifact storage – materials, environmental controls, monitoring in less-than-ideal environments
  • Collaboration with archaeologists and other allied professionals to develop preventive preservation plans
  • Choosing preventive/noninvasive conservation methods over active treatments

Please contact AHN Program Chair Alexis North (alexis.north@gmail.com), AHN assistant Program Chair Morgan Burgess (morganlburgess@gmail.com), and PCN Program Chair Lisa Goldberg (lgoldberg@lgpreservation.com) with any questions.


Book and Paper

The Book and Paper Group (BPG) seeks abstracts that either relate to the meeting theme or address other aspects of the conservation of art on paper, archival materials, bound volumes, manuscripts, or similar materials. We encourage abstracts from anyone with an interest or role in conservation, including current group members, other Specialty Group members, and related professionals. 

The BPG Abstract Selection Committee, composed of the group Program Chair, Assistant Program Chair, and other group members selected to reflect a balance of expertise and specialties among our diverse membership, will review abstracts for this session.

Please contact the BPG Program Chair Amy Hughes (a-hughes@nga.gov) or BPG Assistant Chair Morgan S. Adams (msa2154@columbia.edu) with any questions.


Contemporary Art

The Contemporary Art Network (CAN!) seeks proposals related to the Annual Meeting theme: Expect the Unexpected: Embracing and Managing Change, Uncertainty, and Surprise. Papers may examine the material, social, technical, philosophical, and legal considerations of contemporary art conservation.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Implementation of sustainable practices into contemporary art treatment
  • Preservation approaches for artworks that elude traditional documentation and repair approaches, including light-based art and artworks with obsolescent components or dated technology  
  • Decision-making models, workflows, and new thought approaches in the preservation of contemporary art
  • Innovative treatments; collaboration with artists, studios, fabricators, artists’ estates, and other stakeholders; leveraging the ecosystem of contemporary art; and beyond...

CAN! welcomes abstracts from both onsite and online presenters (limited spots available). In the spirit of mutual learning, we welcome and encourage substantive works-in-progress and open questions. Shorter presentation formats are possible. Salient proposals outside the scope of the meeting’s theme will also be considered for this session. 

For another way to participate in CAN!’s sessions for the upcoming meeting, see calls for the CAN!/EMG Joint Session, CAN!/WAG Joint Session, and the CAN!/CIPP Joint Session.  

Please contact Joy Bloser (CAN! Program Chair) and Ellen Moody (CAN! Assistant Program Chair) at programchair.can@gmail.com with any questions. 

Contemporary Art and Electronic Media 

As artists continue to integrate the newest technology, materials and methods into their work, their innovation often brings new and unexpected challenges to the conservators tasked with the care of their art. Drawing on the Annual Meeting theme, Expect the Unexpected: Embracing and Managing Change, Uncertainty and Surprise, The Contemporary Art Network and Electronic Media Group is soliciting presentations on how contemporary and/or electronic media art have tested our expertise and knowledge in unexpected ways. What systems and workflows are continually challenged by contemporary art? What new technologies and approaches have surfaced new challenges in their collection and preservation? In what ways do contemporary artists introduce uncertainty and surprise into our rigid conservation systems? Should systems, policies and workflows be relaxed to accommodate the new and novel ways contemporary art is being formed?  We seek submissions on  challenges, missteps, and work-arounds resulting from uncertainty and unexpected outcomes of conserving contemporary and electronic media art.

Topics can include: 

  • Challenges in working with new/nascent technologies and/or stewarding works that rely on actively-evolving technology;

  • Approaches for conserving material reliant on software and/or hardware ecosystems;

  • Uncertainty in collecting contemporary works that challenge systems of acquisition, collection management,  preservation;

  • Coping with rapid change and the tensions inherent within this;

  • How electronic media, and/or new methods and materials, in contemporary art have forced you outside of your comfort zone and how you addressed this;


Contemporary Art and Private Practice

The Contemporary Art Network (CAN!) and Conservators in Private Practice (CIPP) group seeks proposals for a special joint session: A Contemporary Lens on Conservation Partnerships within Private Practice.

The role of the conservator, particularly in private practice, has evolved far beyond bench work, requiring conservators to partner with a variety of stakeholders to accomplish preservation goals. This is particularly true when thinking through contemporary art ecosystems of artists, galleries, foundations, estates, fabricators, funders, governmental bodies, and private collectors - each of whom have distinct conservation needs that are primarily served by conservators in private practice.  With the majority of contemporary art being treated in private practice, how are conservation partnerships helping conservators approach the unique and unexpected challenges that arise from these artworks? We are soliciting presentations that address the myriad relationships and partnerships conservators in private practice must build to preserve contemporary cultural heritage while successfully running a business. 

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Projects or treatments born of partnerships and collaborations between conservators and artists;
  • Conservator relationships with civic collections, local municipalities, government entities, public art, and public collections;
  • Partnerships with art advisors, art fairs, appraisers, insurance providers, and shipping and transport agents;
  • Procedures and workflows for consultation with estates, foundations, archives, and local organizations;
  • Collaborations between conservators working in different specialties to address challenging mixed media and materials;
  • Subcontracting relationships between conservators and other entities (e.g. Art storage providers, heavy equipment operators, industrial painters, archaeologists, city planning and development professionals).
  • The evolution of trust and understanding in long-term relationships between conservators and their clients, artists, or subcontractors
  • Advocacy for preservation within the systemic pressures of the art market.

Proposals related to contemporary art and conservation in private practice outside the joint session theme will also be considered.

Please contact Joy Bloser (CAN! Program Chair, programchair.can@gmail.com) and Jennifer Bullock (CIPP Program Chair, jennifer@theconservationlabs.com) with any questions.


Contemporary Art and Wooden Artifacts 

The Contemporary Art Network (CAN!) and Wooden Artifacts Group (WAG) seek proposals for a special joint session centered around the theme and challenge of conserving Modern and Contemporary Furniture & Design. 

Contemporary collections are often homes to materials and objects outside of the expected norm. Modern coatings, synthetic textiles, mass-produced plastics, deteriorating foams, and composite design objects create new challenges and complexities for conservators of all specialties. Expanding collections of these objects often require furniture conservators to care for more than just traditional wooden artifacts. CAN! and WAG are jointly soliciting presentations that relate to these unexpected materials and challenges, intersecting contemporary collections in furniture and design. 

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Treatments of design objects, sculptures, installations, and furniture containing wood, wood composites, plywood, cork, particle board, and reclaimed or recycled wood
  • Modern coatings (e.g. polyurethane, epoxies, cellulose nitrate coatings, etc.) or decorative finishes (e.g. latex paint, enamel, lacquer, metal leaf, etc.)
  • Treatments related to modern upholstered furniture and design materials including plastics, foams, and synthetic textiles
  • Contemporary structural techniques (e.g. press-molded, 3-D printed, steam-bent, etc.)
  • Research that adds to connoisseurship of modern and contemporary furniture and design

Proposals related to contemporary art, design, modern furniture, and/or wooden artifacts outside the joint session theme will also be considered. WAG is still accepting abstracts for their specialty session, “Embracing Changes in Wood”.

Please contact Joy Bloser (CAN! Program Chair, programchair.can@gmail.com) and Sarah Towers (WAG Program Chair, stowers@cwf.org) with any questions.


Electronic Media

The Electronic Media Group (EMG) seeks abstract proposals that relate to the meeting theme or be of another topic.

  Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • A “state of the field” roundtable of time-based media conservation and where we would like to see the field advancing;
  • Presentations and/ or discussion of media conservation work being done outside of a museum context (private practice, artist studio, archives, etc);
  • Trials and tribulations of digital storage: how are you doing it at your institution/organization, anxieties around it, airing of grievances, etc.; 
  • How climate change is impacting our work and how we are thinking about time-based media conservation; 
  • Collaborations with other disciplines/individuals and an assessment on how to build out a network of time-based media conservation; 
  • Obsolete Technology: how we are dealing with rapidly obsolescing technology, namely cathode ray tube monitors; 
  • Conserving digital ecosystems: how we are dealing with complex works that rely on networks, suites of software, etc that is rapidly changing and evolving; 

We are especially interested in proposals that are outside of the traditional presentation format and are more dialogue/discussion oriented.

Please contact Peter Oleksik (EMG Program Chair, peter_oleksik@moma.org) or Caroline Gil (EMG Assistant Program Chair, gilcaroline10@gmail.com) with any questions.


Objects

The Objects Specialty Group (OSG) seeks abstracts that address this year’s theme of Expect the Unexpected: Embracing and Managing Change, Uncertainty, and Surprise – and for objects conservators this is a common everyday truth.  Above all, we embrace uncertainty each time we have to treat something new or unfamiliar under the giant umbrella of “objects.” 

We have heard your requests for more treatment-oriented sessions (to be sprinkled amongst the analytical and research talks) and want to encourage those submissions! Share with us what you have learned from your recent projects, collaborations with other specialty groups, and surprises (good and/or bad). Nothing is too small to share with our fellow colleagues in our endless fight for long-term preservation.  

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Advice and tips you have learned along the way from others (maybe even from other specialties) – pass it on - from treatment techniques, tools, and/or organizational tools. 
  • Facing unknown materials on your table- how did you proceed?  (Even if you think it was just new to you, we all want to hear about your experience!)
  • Navigating budgetary constraints and how did that influence your decision making.
  • What object(s) have you fallen in love with this year (or conversely driven you crazy) – during your treatment or research?  Tell us.
  • How is your institution dealing with climate change?  Have discussions even begun?
Talks are to be a maximum of 20 minutes in length with an additional 5 minutes for questions. The group expects authors to submit a written version of their presentation for publication in the OSG Postprints following the meeting.

Please contact OSG Program Chair, Fran Baas (FBaas@dma.org) and Assistant Program Chair, Caroline Roberts (cirobert@umich.edu) with any questions.


Paintings 

The Paintings Specialty Group (PSG) seeks papers that address this year’s conference theme but will address any submitted abstracts centering around paintings conservation. 

Please contact PSG Program Chair Julianna Ly (JLy@clevelandart.org) with any questions.


Paintings and Textiles Joint Session

Often paintings and textile conservation treatments are discussed independently of each other; however, many objects serve as an intersection between the two disciplines. This includes but is not limited to Western paintings on linen and cotton supports, Eastern paintings on silk, painted flags and costumes, silk work pictures, and mixed media works. The Paintings and Textiles specialty groups hope that this session will facilitate cross-disciplinary discussion and foster collaboration and exploration of treatment ideas, techniques, and considerations.

  Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Collaborations between Textile and Paintings conservators to treat the same artwork or suite of artworks.
  • Unique treatments borrowed from paintings or textile conservation disciplines to address complex condition issues
  • Conservation treatments of Asian paintings on silk
  • Conservation of modern painted surfaces including exposed or raw canvas areas requiring treatment
  • Structural treatments of textile supports

Please contact PSG Program Chair Julianna Ly (JLy@clevelandart.org) and TSG Program Chair Annabelle Camp (annabellefcamp@gmail.com) with any questions.


Photographic Materials

The theme of this year's meeting is certain to resonate with conservators, researchers and allied professionals who dedicate their work to ever-changing photographic materials.

The Photographic Materials Group welcomes 20- or 10-minute talks and poster presentations for our specialty session.

Please contact the PMG Program Chair Karina Beeman (programchair.pmg@gmail.com) and PMG Assistant Program Chair Sarah Casto (assistantprogramchair.pmg@gmail.com) with any questions.


Preventive Care

Preventive conservation work is carried out by a wide range of preventive care professionals who have entered the cultural heritage profession through a variety of pathways. As preventive conservation emerges as a specialty within graduate education programs, and preventive conservator positions become more common in museums, the responsibilities of these professionals continue to be defined.

This session will focus on preventive care professionals’ experiences, related to individual expectations and realities faced when working in this burgeoning field. The Preventive Care Network seeks submissions that address the intricacies of our complicated profession from emerging professionals, seasoned practitioners, and all preventive care professionals.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Expectations and realities of preventive care: Share your perspectives about whether your initial expectations match your job responsibilities.
  • Growth opportunities: Share your perspectives about how your responsibilities have created unexpected personal and professional opportunities for change.
  • Challenges and successes: Describe how a project did not develop according to expectations or changed as emergent needs evolved. Innovative solutions when faced with a novel situation are encouraged.
  • Support for this growing field: How do we capitalize on the variety of strengths people bring into the field thanks to the variety of backgrounds and expectations these professionals have?

See also the Preventive Care Networks joint session with the Architecture Specialty Group.

Please contact the PCN Program Chair Lisa Goldberg (lgoldberg@lgpreservation.com) with any questions.


Research and Technical Studies  

In scientific exploration, encountering the unexpected is often a pathway to groundbreaking discovery, aligning the scientific process with the annual meeting's theme. The Research and Technical Studies (RATS) specialty group embraces the theme, recognizing that unpredictability in the conservation field—whether a serendipitous discovery or a challenging puzzle to solve—offers rich opportunities for learning, collaboration, and growth.

The group warmly welcomes all abstracts aligned with research efforts in the conservation field, especially those that resonate with the overarching theme of the 2024 Annual Meeting.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Exploration of unexpected findings in technical studies and problem-based research in the conservation field.
  • Discovery of unusual or unexpected connections with other specializations within the conservation field or other fields. Multi-presenter proposals are especially welcome!
  • Innovation in unexpected or new alternative uses for laboratory instruments and tools, fostering novel approaches to conservation research and practice.

The quest for sustainability in our practices goes beyond simply labeling something as "greener." Using holistic approaches, such as life cycle assessments (LCA), to evaluate the environmental and human health impacts of material choices throughout their life span can bring unexpected insights into our choices.

In line with this perspective and in collaboration with the Health and Safety Network and the Sustainability Committee, the group invites abstract submissions in the following thematic areas:

  1. Solvents in Conservation Practice: Balancing Environmental and Human Health.

    Examples of topics include:
  • Exploring the impact of choosing and using "greener solvents" on human health holistically: How does a reduced environmental footprint align with health implications?
  • Opportunities and gaps in understanding the toxicity of “greener solvents” and solvents evaluated through LCA. and establishing permissible exposure levels. What steps can we take when toxicological data is lacking?
  • Practical tools and methodologies for conservators and scientists to gauge solvent exposure levels and factors in toxicity (whether known or unknown) in assessing the performance and safety of solvents in conservation practice and research.
  1. Studies Supporting Holistic Approaches to Sustainability in Conservation Practice and Research.

    Examples of topics include:
  • Adjustments in treatment methodologies and collection care practices influenced by the integration of environmentally evaluated solvents and materials.
  • Case analyses of unforeseen results and lessons from utilizing environmentally assessed solvents and materials.
  • Studies on materials' long-term viability and stability in conservation and collection management contexts. Understanding and managing complexity in the life cycle of materials.

Big Cheese Best Poster Award

RATS is pleased to continue the Big Cheese Best Poster Award, which will be given to the best poster presented at an AIC Annual Conference by an early career professional, preferably enrolled in an academic program (at the undergraduate or graduate level) or with no more than 5 years of post-graduate experience. The poster must demonstrate compelling and exemplary use of scientific techniques and instrumentation to study cultural heritage. A winning poster should be significantly informed by scientific principles of research. Topics include, but are not limited to technical art history, conservation treatments, research into historic, modern, and contemporary artist materials, and preventive conservation.

The awardee(s) will receive a Certificate of Honor at the Annual Conference, a two-year membership in RATS, and ticket(s) to attend the RATS reception.

Please contact the RATS Program Chair Anikó Bezur (aniko.bezur@yale.edu) with any questions.

Sustainability

Sessions will follow the main Call for Papers. Also, see Research and Technical Studies session posted above.


Textiles

Sessions will follow the main Call for Papers.


Wooden Artifacts

The Wooden Artifacts Group seeks abstracts that interpret the idea of embracing and managing changes in wooden artifacts. 

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Innovative treatments showcasing evolving material choices, philosophical approaches, or solutions to a changing landscape of modern materials.  
  • Exciting new research, perhaps involving collaboration beyond the world of conservation, integrating new techniques and perspectives.
  • Bringing the world of wood to new audiences, or fostering new and diverse viewpoints.
  • Furthering concepts of sustainability (be they environment, social, or fiscal) in the world of wooden artifacts.
Please contact the WAG Program Chair Sarah Towers (sarahetowers@gmail.com) with any questions.