The Conservation guerilla and his World – Fair warning

Working to improve collections held in the Public Trust and in private hands

As a Profession, Conservators need to do some serious retail outreach. We tend to get lost in the insular, comfortable echo-chamber of the so called “conservation field”; our own websites, twitter groups, blogs, meetings, publications and seminars. We publish and keep preaching about conservation to the converted and cultivate our own mutual admiration society. Peer recognition is nice, but of little practical use here. I know, it’s comfortable and safe, but this certainly doesn’t qualify as public outreach and won’t improve the state of collections or the lives of those who work in the field!

We need to explore the real world outside our comfort zone. We need to repurpose our lives and make a resolution to never let a day go by without advancing our chosen purpose.

My chosen purpose is the preservation of cultural heritage. Every day I try to do something of substance to further the cause. I speak, I write, I educate, I treat, I rail against the status-quo and I do this to even to people who don’t share my views or who perceive themselves powerless to act. We can all do something and just “making nice” doesn’t cut it. When it comes to improving the state of collections in the Public Trust, the respect of turf and protocol impedes progress.

My hope is to start a public dialogue and influence cultural institutions to effect changes in programming and philosophy which will result in improved Collections Care. I will attempt to coax, cajole and if necessary, shame people who have competent jurisdiction into taking the conservation and preservation of heritage and cultural property more seriously.  Isn’t that the goal we are all working toward?

What specifically have you done about this today?

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July 23rd, 2009

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