Conference Review: “Fail to Plan, and Plan to Fail” (Icon Care of Collections Group AGM and Conference)

Interesting review of the Icon Care of Collections AGM and Conference “Fail to Plan, and Plan to Fail” held in October 2016. The event delivered a forward-thinking approach to disaster response including talks on having an emergency plan on a smart phone and the Museum of London’s emergency planning e-learning tool. Read now and reassess your own disaster plan!

The Book & Paper Gathering

The dreaded call from a colleague with a collections emergency is one that no conservator wants to receive; but it has happened to many of us. Small-scale incidents are more common than major emergencies, but planning for an emergency situation of any scale involves a great deal of work to ensure a plan is in place, the right equipment is available and the response will be effective. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Florence floods; and with more recent disasters like the fires at Clandon Park and Glasgow School of Art on our minds, emergency preparedness seems more necessary than ever.

On 3rd October 2016, Icon’s Care of Collections Group (CCG) held a conference ominously titled “Fail to Plan, and Plan to Fail”, followed by their AGM. The event was held at the British Library and included a tour of the book stacks and salvage equipment…

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Conservation in Scotland and Brexit

The Icon Scotland Group were asked for details on what leaving the EU might mean for conservators.  Rather than shrug and say ‘No Idea’, we thought it best to see if we could find some specifics to comment on. Carol, Ylva and Rob put together the below response with help from Alison and Siobhan at London HQ. Our response goes to Built Environment Forum for Scotland (Icon is a member of this) who collate it with others and send to the Scottish Government. Please do let us know your thoughts on this!

Institute of Conservation response to the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) information request

Icon is delighted to be able to respond to the call from BEFS to inform a response to the Europe and External Relations Committee’s call for evidence on Scotland’s relationship with the EU. We provide information below on the connections, initiatives and relationships that Icon and our profession have with Europe currently.

The Institute of Conservation (Icon) is a registered charity and the professional body for the conservation of cultural heritage. Icon raises awareness of the cultural, social and economic value of caring for heritage and champions high standards of conservation. Icon Scotland Group is one of Icon’s 16 special interest groups.

Heritage Science research funding

The science of heritage conservation is a relatively new field and is a field where the UK has a global standing and reputation. This research is essential to inform the care and preservation of our cultural heritage. Around 50% of funding for heritage science comes from the EU. This compares to about 7% of total public research funding being from the UK. (Source: conference on Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (http://www.seaha-cdt.ac.uk/seaha-conference-2016/), Dr Adam Cooper, Lecturer in Social Science and Public Policy at UCL)

Ongoing research is needed to develop improved ways of looking after our historic buildings and museum collections that are continually in need of conservation and maintenance.

If EU funding for this research is removed without replacing it we will lose the ability to care for much that is of value to us as a country and much that is the primary reason for overseas visitors to come to the UK.

Skills Training and Provision across the UK and EU

There are a little over 3000 conservators working in the UK.2 This small field relies on cross-border training and the movement of specialists between nation states. For example, a book conservator may train in Germany and practice in Scotland or a textile conservator may train in Scotland and practice in France.

The sector is too small for the UK to provide education and training in all specialisms at all levels within its borders. We need, for example, the ability to import stone conservators from Germany who get a level of training that is simply not available in the UK.

The profession of Conservator is included in the EU Free Movement of Regulated Professionals legislation which formalises the ability of UK trained conservators to use their qualifications across the EU and vice-versa. This free movement of expertise also gives us the opportunity to take skills acquired in the UK and use them overseas. For example, stained glass conservators could provide expertise to projects in Ireland.

The training of conservators that is available in Scotland (primarily the Textile Conservation Centre at Glasgow University) relies on having non-UK students. This specialist post-graduate training will be less attractive to potential students if these students become unable to use their training in the rest of the EU (if they are UK citizens) or in the UK (if they are EU citizens). It will also be less attractive to EU students if they are required to pay non-EU tuition fees (currently about double EU fees). This would result in less demand for the courses and might risk their viability. This in turn risks further undermining training provision for the UK and the EU.

We hope this is useful to the Forum, and look forward to hearing about progress in due course.

‘Adhesives for Parchment Treatment’

This fascinating blog on a workshop hosted by the National Records of Scotland was originally posted on ‘The Book and Paper Gathering’, an excellent resource for the book and paper conservation community. Check it out now!

The Book & Paper Gathering

‘Adhesives for Parchment Treatment’

A training day at the National Records of Scotland Conservation Services Branch with Antoinette Curtis and Yuki Russell

Author’s note: I am very grateful to Antoinette Curtis for generously offering to review the lines that follow. It is now a few weeks since Antoinette retired (congratulations!) and I feel so glad to have had the chance to benefit not only from the latest fruits of her smart research, but also from the example of the craftsman’s attitude with which that research has been pursued. I owe the same degree of gratitude to Head of Conservation Linda Ramsay and colleagues at the National Records of Scotland.

Following on from the success of the ARA training day on adhesives held at General Register House of the National Records of Scotland (NRS) on 5 November 2014, Antoinette Curtis and Yuki Russell, from the Norfolk Record Office (NRO), were invited to visit…

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Eventswatch – “Fire in the Archives”

If you missed out on the recent ‘Fire in the Archive’ training day hosted by the Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) in Edinburgh, you can read all about it in this excellent post, originally uploaded on the Archives and Records Association (ARA) New Professionals Blog ‘Off the Record’. You can also view the presentations from the day on the Scottish Council on Archives website. http://www.scottisharchives.org.uk/preservation/fire

Off the Record

“Fire in the Archive” is not generally an expression that most Archivists want to hear in their day to day work but an exception was made on the 30th September 2015 as it was the title for the Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) annual meeting and training day.

SCAThe SCA are a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which supports the Scottish Archive sector by providing training and guidance on collections development, records management and outreach. The day was held at New Register House (part of the National Records of Scotland) in Edinburgh and as the title suggests, the day centered on sharing experiences by those who had experienced fire in their repository and knowledge sharing to help delegates guard against potential fires as best they can.

After a short welcome by the SCA Chair, Dr Irene O’ Brien, the day began with an introduction from Linda Ramsay, the SCA Preservation…

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Join the Conservation!

Since we launched this blog in January, we have gained over 350 followers and the website has been viewed over 3000 times. We have received and published lots of fantastic articles about conservation and conservators in Scotland, but we are always on the look out for more!

Do you want to join in the fun and see your name in (digital) print? A page long description of your project, some photographs of an interesting object or just a paragraph on something that’s got you excited, we accept them all!

It’s a great way publicise what you are doing and looks great on a CV. Want to have a go, but stuck for ideas? Have a look at this article for some inspiration. So what are you waiting for? Check out these simple guidelines and send us your article to join the conservation!

Painting of Russian writer Evgeny Chirikov by Ivan Kulikov, 1904.

Painting of Russian writer Evgeny Chirikov by Ivan Kulikov, 1904.