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.

Specialty Sessions

The following Specialty Sessions accept abstracts on the meeting theme. Specific calls are below.

  • Architecture
  • Book and Paper
  • Collections Care
  • Collections Care Joint Session with SPNHC* 
  • Contemporary Art Network (CAN!)
  • Electronic Media
  • Electronic Media/Contemporary Art Network
  • Objects
  • Objects Joint Session with SPNHC*
  • Paintings

*joint sessions
  • Photographic Materials
  • Photographic Materials and Book and Paper Joint Session*
  • Poster
  • Research and Technical Studies
  • Research and Technical Studies and SPNHC Joint Session*
  • Research and Technical Studies/Imaging Joint Session
  • SPNHC and AIC Joint Session - Specimen Spotlight*
  • SPNHC and AIC Joint Session - Collection Theft and Security Monitoring of Collections*
  • Sustainability
  • Textiles
  • Wooden Artifacts

Specific Calls

Architecture Session on New Research

We seek abstracts exploring topics framed within a research methodology, as opposed to a case-study approach. Research topics could include architectural conservation materials, techniques, or concepts, whether in the laboratory or in the field. We encourage both emerging and experienced professionals to submit topics.

Example topics include:

  • Investigations at a site or group of sites that focus on research into materials and treatment
  • Laboratory testing and materials characterization studies
  • Literature reviews or surveys on relevant subjects
  • Surveys or critiques of existing methods and techniques

Abstracts can conform to the main conference’s standard arrangement of no more than 2 speakers presenting in a 30 minute time slot, or shorter presentations are also welcome. Please indicate in your abstract text if you are proposing a shorter presentation.

Book and Paper Sessions

  • The Book and Paper Group (BPG) of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) seeks abstract submissions  for the 49th Annual Meeting, scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, May 11 - 15, 2021.

    This year's Book and Paper Group sessions are expected to include:

    • BPG specialty group session presentations
    • A joint session with the Photographic Materials Group (PMG) -- details coming soon!
    • The newly formed Library and Archives Conservation Discussion Group (LACDG)
    • Art on Paper Discussion Group (APDG)

    The 2021 AIC Annual Meeting marks the 40th anniversary of the Book and Paper Group. In honor of this anniversary, we invite presentations that look back to our history and that look towards our future.

    Abstracts for the BPG specialty group sessions may address any aspect of the conservation of works of art on paper, archival materials, books and other bound volumes, manuscripts, or related materials. We especially welcome presentations that directly address the meeting theme, TRANSFORM 2021, examining our work in the context of a call for broad changes in our field and in our workplaces, with a specific focus on the work of book and paper conservators. We also seek presentations that explore the history of book and paper conservation, highlight long trends and shifts in our work, or re-examine past treatments and practices. We encourage talks that look to emerging trends and technologies that will guide and shape the treatment of book and paper collections in coming years. At this juncture of transformation, we seek to understand our past and to define future directions.

    We also welcome proposals for panels or discussions on a theme. If you wish to propose a panel, please include the names of proposed panelists in your abstract, with a brief description of the topic or perspective each panelist will address.

    Final scheduling will be determined at a later date, but all presentations will be either 15 or 25 minutes with additional time for questions.

Collection Care Sessions

Abstracts for the Collection Care sessions may fall into any of the following three categories:

  • Topic ideas include, but are not limited to the overall 2021 AIC meeting theme, Transformative Work: Creativity, Collaboration, Resilience
  •  Short, five-minute presentations relating to storage and rehousing that would be part of the STASH Flash tips session and will be uploaded to the website.
  • Tools or techniques useful to creating storage mounts or housings
  • Tactics to improve workflow in rehousing projects
  • Innovative storage solutions for individual artifacts or collection groups

Collection Care and SPNHC Joint Session

We welcome presentations on the treatment and care of natural history collections.

Collection Theft and Security Monitoring of Collections

Organizer: Paul Mayer The Field Museum

Something has been stolen – what now? This was raised as a question in response to the plenary talk and discussions by Kirk Wallace Johnson author of The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century at the 2019 SPNHC Meeting in Chicago.

This symposium will investigate and try to develop best practice policies for preventing thefts and how we can better share information on thefts?

  • Preventative Actions
  • Education: Engaging the communities who may be higher risk and to educate them as to the importance and  scientific value of the collections
  • Heightened Security: Balancing between acceptable levels of security and either alienating the community or discouraging use of the collections.
  • Risk assessment: Identifying higher risk objects and higher risk visitors.
  • Communication Channels  and Monitoring
  • Using listservs and social media to alert the community of thefts.
  • The use of automated alerts
  • Monitoring Social media
  • Train people in the amateur community to identify stolen items.
  • Digitization and cataloging to help identify what has gone missing from collections.
  • Regular collection audits

Contemporary Art Network (CAN!)

CAN! seeks your proposals on the conservation of contemporary art for its first-ever specialty sessions during the 2021 AIC Annual Meeting.  CAN! was formed in recognition that contemporary art requires a number of unique material, social, technical, and legal considerations.  How have you navigated this terrain?  Possible topics include creative treatments of contemporary artworks; preservation of contemporary media and formats; collaboration with artists, artist estates, and other stakeholders; developments in theory and ethics; documentation practices; the ecosystem of contemporary art; and beyond. In the spirit of mutual learning, substantive works-in-progress and open questions are welcome. Shorter presentation formats are possible. While proposals may relate to the overall meeting theme of TRANSFORM 2021, this is not required (see also the call for the CAN!/EMG Joint Session: Transforming Ownership into a Network of Care).

Electronic Media and Contemporary Art Session


The Contemporary Art Network and Electronic Media Group would like to re-examine norms for custodianship of artworks and explore how outreach and inclusivity can be implemented in conservation practice and beyond. Submissions relating to historical, contemporary, and/or time-based/electronic art and from nontraditional projects and organizations are encouraged. Traditionally, acquisition of an artwork has transferred a great deal of control to the owner of the work. After transfer of ownership, artists, communities, and other stakeholders have few legal rights beyond copyright and limited moral rights. However, pioneering institutions have begun to understand that long-term access and meaning for many artworks is only possible through ongoing collaboration with individuals, professionals, and groups who sit outside the institutional sphere. Working with living artists, fabricators, technical experts, communities, and other networks of care and knowledge decentralizes authority, questioning the traditional models of acquisition and ownership. Through this process artworks may change and evolve after the point of acquisition. However, a more nuanced experience of a living work may be gained - as well as an environment more inclusive to all connected with the work, from artist to audience.  How is collective custodianship and decision-making fostered in practice? Can it be extended beyond pioneering public collections into the realm of private ownership? How do we better incorporate the voices, viewpoints, and interests of diverse audiences and stakeholders into our current approaches and how can we as conservators advocate for the rights and voices of artists, communities, and less powerful stakeholders?

Objects Session and Objects and Natural History Collections Joint Session 

For the 2021 meetings we are seeking abstracts that follow the conference theme of “Transform 2021” and abstracts for a joint session between OSG/SPNHC (Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections). Talks are to be a maximum of 25 minutes in length, with an additional 5 minutes for questions.

Ideas may include:

  • Treatments that have had a dramatic befSaveore and after transformation.
  • The use of treatment materials that differ from the “usual” way.
  • Overcoming past treatments that have failed.
  • Natural History objects encountered in non-traditional settings.

If you have a fantastic project you’d love to share but it does not fit these themes, please feel free to submit it! All abstracts will be considered.

Paintings Session 


Photographic Materials Session


Photographic Materials and Book and Paper Joint Session

A 1999 joint session of the AIC Photographic Materials Group (PMG) and the Book and Paper Group (BPG) at the 27th Annual Meeting of AIC culminated in the seminal publication Conservation of Scrapbooks and Albums. This subject area remains an important area of overlapping interest and collaboration for book, paper, and photograph conservators working in library, archive, and museum settings.

Over the past few decades of practice, book conservation has seen a steady, gradual shift away from invasive treatment, which might include disbinding, washing, and re-sewing a bound volume, towards a more minimal approach to treatment that instead strives to keep bindings intact and preserve evidence conveyed through original binding elements. Bound albums and scrapbooks, however, present significant challenges in stabilization, storage, handling, and use that sometimes necessitate substantial intervention and change to the original object. Practical considerations for exhibition and safe storage may drive decisions to disbind album structures and store plates or prints individually.

Digital imaging technology was also introduced, and vastly improved on, over these decades. Digitization has become an integral part of preservation of these materials, opening up a variety of options and considerations that impact treatment decisions.

For this session, we invite presentations related to all aspects of the treatment of photographic albums, scrapbooks, plate-books, or similar materials. Special consideration will be given to talks with a focus on practical and ethical considerations that guide treatment decisions for objects and collections of this kind. Photographic albums and other visual materials make up an important component of natural history collections, and we welcome the input and perspective of our Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) colleagues as part of the joint meeting between our organizations.

Questions to be investigated in the session might include:

  • What meaning is conveyed through the context of the album or binding, or through the groupings of images contained?

  • What is lost, and what is gained, through substantive changes to these structures or groupings?

  • How do we balance practical considerations for storage, handling, and exhibition with the imperative to preserve original context?

  • How can meaning and importance of original context be conveyed effectively and appropriately to curators and collection stakeholders?


Conservation is a visual field. Present your research as a poster.

Research and Technical Studies Session

Submissions of original work related to the topics below are encouraged, although papers otherwise related to any aspect of research and technical studies of cultural heritage will be also considered.

  • Joint session of RATS/IWG (Imaging Working Group) (please see details below).
  • Longstanding challenges, groundbreaking solutions, and novel capabilities in the technical examination, scientific analysis, and conservation of cultural heritage.
  • New models for sustainable collaboration and resource sharing across disciplines and institutions for a transformative perspective on studying and preserving cultural heritage.
  • New platforms for the acquisition, interpretation, management, and sharing of data in the era of digital transformation and technology-driven innovation. Please contact Federica Pozzi (RATS Program Chair, or Jane Klinger (RATS Assistant Program Chair, with any questions.

Research and Technical Studies and Imaging Joint Session

The Research And Technical Studies specialty group and the Imaging Working Group invite papers related to the conference theme of Transform in the context of the rethinking of conservation documentation and scientific imaging. This session aims to challenge how our imaging practices reflect inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Submissions related to this topic and the questions below are encouraged, though others related to imaging will be also considered.

  • Functions of Imaging: Imaging can have a detection function (when did something change?), a diagnostic function (what is changing?), a comparative function (what is the rate of change?), and an evaluative function (have we had the desired impact?), in addition to the representational function (what did it look like during treatment?). How are these functions of imaging implemented to transform the means of characterizing and measuring the rate of deterioration and the impact of conservation treatment?
  • Stakeholders: Imaging and analysis can increase our understanding of objects and materials, and can expand the stakeholders connected to the object and the interpretation of the results. How are we identifying stakeholders? How do we expand the conversation with these stakeholders and sharing the results? How does this impact our imaging practice, and how do we contextualize, share, and provide access to images?
  • Digital surrogates and cultural considerations: Images can be considered digital surrogates of the object for scientific and documentation use. How do our imaging practices reflect inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility? How are we acquiring, handling, processing, and sharing these images? Who has access to the images and how are they being used? Please contact E. Keats Webb (IWG Chair, or Federica Pozzi (RATS Program Chair, with any questions.

Specimen Spotlight - a Joint Session with SPNHC 

Organizer: Paul Mayer, The Field Museum,

We are looking for short, lightning-round type talks on one special specimen in your collection. Something that has an amazing story to tell. Why that specimen is your favorite or is critical to science or education. Why does it matter? Why is it important? What makes it important? What work have you done on it? Please be creative and if you have an idea try it and please feel free to email me any questions you might have.

Talks will be limited to 5 minutes and just 1 slide. The audio will be recorded and presentations posted on our SPNHC YouTube Channel. 

Sustainability Session

Submission of original research and work related to the theme are welcome, and any submissions related to sustainable conservation and preservation will be considered. 

Topic ideas include:

  • The impact of climate change on cultural heritage within or beyond with your institution or practice
  • Preventive strategies for adapting to a changing climate and more frequent weather-related disasters
  • Case studies on advocating for sustainable policies in your institution
  • The development of new tools or tactics to make your practice more sustainable
  • The implementation of sustainable practices on a small or large scale
  • The adoption of a zero-waste policy in your institution or conservation practice

Textiles  Session

This year's Annual Meeting theme invites us to explore how we can transform our field, and how our work can transform the world. Bring out your inner superhero and share with your colleagues efforts made to transform institutions and studios into inclusive, proactive, and dynamic work environments fostering the highest standard of care for cultural property. Treatment presentations, current research and all topics of interest to textile conservators are welcome.

 Wooden Artifacts Session

Invites you to submit abstracts for the WAG specialty session. Abstracts on this year’s theme of challenging norms in relation to the conservation of furniture, wooden objects, architectural woodwork, musical instruments, and lacquer are encouraged. In the interest of expanding knowledge on specialisms within the field, WAG would like to add a session focusing on gilded wood. Abstracts for this session can be about traditional gilding and conservation gilding with a focus on non-traditional techniques, methods, and materials. Abstracts about ongoing projects or material research are also welcome.

  • Due to the current environment, it has yet to be determined whether some or all of the conference will be virtual. Please indicate with your abstract if you would be uncomfortable presenting at an in-person conference or virtual conference.

    Please contact WAG chair Christine Storti, WAG program chair Trevor Boyd, or WAG assistant program chair Liz Peirce should you have any questions.