Rescuing Collections

Rescuing Collections

Our Cultural Heritage is in peril. According to the Heritage Health Index study excerpted below:

“A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections, was published in December 2005
and concluded that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of
190 million artifacts that are in need of conservation treatment. The
report made four recommendations:

  • Institutions must give priority to providing safe conditions for the collections they hold in trust.
  • Every collecting institution must develop an emergency plan to protect its collections and train staff to carry it out.
  • Every institution must assign responsibility for caring for collections to members of its staff.
  • Individuals at all levels
    of government and in the private sector must assume responsibility for
    providing the support that will allow these collections to survive.”
Watch the video

Traditional funding to ameliorate the health of our Heritage and Cultural Property has not increased since the publication of this study in 2005, it has actually diminished, exacerbating the situation to a point of crisis.

To address this grave problem, Avatar Company and ConservArt have formed a strategic alliance for the purpose of
providing a much needed solution through conservation treatment of collections and various other services, which are fully funded by
grants they help raise.


Bob Kovacevich, the Principal at Avatar is very well known
and respected in the field of non-profit sector, strategic planning and fund
raising. George Schwartz the Principal and Chief Conservator of ConservArt, is a Professional Associate Member of the AIC and has been a professional conservator in a multidisciplinary private practice
setting  since 1963. 

The following page contains an outline of the services provided to Institutions. For more information and to discuss ways to join this Program, contact:

Bob Kovacevich

George Schwartz

Rescuing Collections – Providing Solutions

List of services

  • We work with Institutions to identify collections in need and Collection Care projects, which will attract interested Donors.
  • We help Institutions prioritize and survey the needs of the collection and/or project, establish treatment methodologies and/or approaches and calculate the costs.
  • We work with Institutions to draft a Memorandum of Agreement, outlining the Project, the details of the work we will perform, the cost of the Project and the payment schedule.
  • The terms of the Memorandum of Agreement are contingent upon our ability to secure funding for the Project.
  • We perform extensive proprietary database research to identify Donors most likely to fund the Project.
  • The list of potential Donors will be contacted individually to get feedback on their interest in the particular Project at hand.
  • We cooperate with Institutions to write Grant Applications and submit these Applications to those Foundations, who expressed the greatest degree of enthusiasm in the particular Project.
  • Historically a thorough approach such as the one described above, has a better than 70% rate of approval.
  • Once the Grant is approved, the funds will flow into the coffers of the Institution and are partially disbursed to us as we begin the work. Progress payments are made by the institution on the previously agreed upon schedule as outlined in the above mentioned Memorandum of Agreement.
  • Upon the completion of the Project, attaining the goals of the Project as outlined in the Grant Application, the final balance of the Grant is paid.
  • We will write a Report of Fulfillment and forward it to the Donor, to document the Project and demonstrate how their Grant made a difference to the Institution’s Mission and furthered the Cause they supported.
  • Our services are available to all 501(c)(3) Institutions, Friends of Institutions and other entities designated as not for profit by the IRS.
  • The Institution incurs no monetary cost whatsoever for these services.
  • We work in close cooperation with the Institution’s designated personnel to identify Collections and Projects and profile their particular significance for potential Donors.
  • Our services will free up budgets currently allocated for special Projects and Collection Care, which can be used for other purposes.
  • We design all aspects of our work to conform with the Best Practices in the field and the Code of Ethics of the AIC.
  • Our services may include consulting and staff training as well as most aspects of the daily activities of a collecting Institution.
  • We are available to meet with you to discuss your Institutions needs. Your comments and inquiries are welcome.


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Posted on:
November 23rd, 2009

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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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Posted on:
July 23rd, 2009

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Conservation Matters

My name is George Schwartz. I’m a professional conservator working in Boca Raton, Florida. I have a full-service Studio and provide treatment services, consult, write, teach and think a lot about the preservation, conservation and restoration of Cultural Property.

I write about conservation matters, because when we consider our Heritage and Cultural Property, conservation matters!

It would be difficult to state it more succinctly than Phillip Long did:

“Our heritage is all we know of ourselves,
what we preserve of it, our only record.
That record is our beacon in the darkness of time,
the light that guides our steps.
Conservation is the means by which we preserve it.
…It is a commitment not to the past,
but to the future.”

By now most of us have read the HHI Report. The Survey reveals widespread problems in our Nation’s Public Institutions which are entrusted to care and preserve our Cultural Heritage.

The Report paints a sad picture of the entire system of how the Preservation and the Conservation of our National Heritage is managed. Irreplaceable treasures of history and culture continue to deteriorate despite the best efforts of many dedicated professionals.

I don’t claim to have foolproof solutions to this serious problem, but I do have the vantage point of being somewhat outside the System and this provides me with a different even if not necessarily a better perspective.

In these pages I will be posting some new ideas, proposed solutions and some sterilized extracts of my correspondence with some of the leaders in the field of Conservation and colleagues. Sterilized, because I scrupulously respect the confidentiality of private correspondence and would never knowingly compromise confidences by being indiscreet.

I hope to generate enough controversy to get readers thinking and more importantly, acting and to chime in regarding how we can improve the state of collections in the Public Trust and in the hands of private collectors. I’m looking for comments especially from people with views opposing to mine, so that together we can find a way to truly make a difference.

Thanks for reading!



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Posted on:
June 11th, 2009

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