Happy Thanksgiving

Posted in opinion pages, site information by Editor on November 25, 2010

From the Editor

As I’ve mentioned before, a highlight of my summer was the chance to participate in the Attingham Program for the Study of Dutch Historic Houses. Before meeting up with the group in Amsterdam, I spent a couple of days in Antwerp and was especially delighted to stumble across this extraordinary pulpit from 1713. On several occasions, I was intrigued with important eighteenth-century additions to much older churches (the extraordinary organ at Haarlem’s St. Bavo is another example). The pulpit offers an amazing collection of wildlife, but at this time of the year, it is, of course, the turkey that stands out. To all of Enfilade’s American readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving.  -CH

From the wall text at The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp:

Michiel Van der Voort (1667-1737), Pulpit, 7 meters high

The pulpit stems from the former Saint Bernard’s Abbey located in Hemiksem,
south of Antwerp, and was brough in 1803 by the church council of the
Cathedral. The base and support symbolize the dissemination of faith across
the four continents. It is a superb example of the naturalistic Baroque.

Sartorial Choices for Academics

Posted in opinion pages by Editor on September 10, 2010

From the Editor

With the beginning of a new academic year and a new round of attacks on the tenure system, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that the question of how professors should dress surfaces once more (older discussion can be found here). Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus in their book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It (recently reviewed in The New York Times) use clothes as a shorthand for what they see as larger problems in the system:

Say goodbye to Mr. Chips with his tattered tweed jacket; today’s senior professors can afford Marc Jacobs.

Katrina Gulliver, who works on urban identity in colonial cities, ca. 1500-1900, responds to Hacker and Dreifus, The New York Times review, and general assumptions that professors shouldn’t look overly fashionable — or even professional (a Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Gulliver hosts the podcasts, Cities in History; her website is especially useful for anyone interested in historians who Tweet, Twitterstorians).

For all the ways I find myself nodding in agreement with Gulliver’s critique of Hacker and Dreifus, it doesn’t quite match my own feelings: apart from the question of whether academics should dress fashionably, the vast majority of my colleagues (at various institutions across North America) simply are not, in fact, sporting Marc Jacobs. Period. I imagine it stems from a lack of interest and a lack of resources, but whatever the reasons, the reference by Hacker and Dreifus seems to be a straw man for the sake of rhetorical flourish. Regardless, it’s interesting that once again fashion serves as a means of critiquing, not establishing academic credibility. We’ve heard this refrain before. It’s probably safe to bet that we’ll hear it again.

-Craig Hanson

Hamburger and Grafton on the Warburg Library

Posted in opinion pages, resources by Editor on September 8, 2010

From The New York Review Blog (1 September 2010) . . .

Jeffrey Hamburger and Anthony Grafton, “Save the Warburg Library!”

. . . both Labour and Tory governments seem bent on rearing hierarchies, crushing autonomy, and destroying morale. The idea, apparently, is to reconfigure the universities on a corporate model—not, however, the democratic model used by Google and other corporations that are flourishing now, but the older one of the 1950s, which did wonders for such British industries as shipbuilding and car manufacturing.

Particularly painful is the University of London’s attempt to disperse the unparalleled collections of the Warburg Institute. Named for a supremely imaginative historian of art and culture, Aby Warburg, the institute began as his library in Hamburg, which was devoted to the study of the impact of classical antiquity on European civilization. The library was rescued from Hamburg in 1933, following Hitler’s rise to power, thanks in part to the help of British benefactors. . . .

Recent articles in the German and Swiss press have called attention to the Warburg’s travails. If the University of London insists on following through with its plan, perhaps the German authorities can find the means to bring the Warburg back to its original home. That would certainly be preferable to watching as philistines demolish a great European institution.

The rest of this version of the essay can be found here at the New York Review Blog; a longer version will appear in the September 30 issue of The New York Review.

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Ruminations with a Recommendation or Two

Posted in opinion pages, resources by Editor on June 29, 2010

From the Editor

Summer is here, but I think we’re living in the late autumn of the print magazine. There’s been lots of talk in academic circles about the dubious future of paper-format journals, but it’s perhaps interesting to consider the migration to the digital realm from both sides of the periodical spectrum — not only from the the Ivory Tower of erudition but also from the populism of Main Street.

The point has been brought home to me over the past year on a number of occasions as I’ve first learned of the end of various design magazines from design blogs. An article in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times (20 June 2010) presents the next logical step. Claire Cain Miller explains the origins of a new online design magazine, Lonny: “Michelle Adams, 27, a former market assistant at Domino, and Patrick Cline, 34, a photographer and photo retoucher, were talking . . . in May 2009 after Condé Nast closed Domino, its sprightly home magazine. Over dinner at Chili’s, they mourned the loss of the magazine and other design magazines, like Blueprint and House & Garden, and joked that they should start their own.” So they did, and 600,000 readers later, theirs looks to me like the future.

A blog, of course, isn’t exactly the same thing as a digital magazine, but this relatively new format seems to be coming of age in its own right, and there are certainly loads of fine examples that facilitate an exchange of information that simply couldn’t have happened in any way even ten years ago. To underscore just two: I’m still a big fan of Courtney Barnes’s Style Court, and I’ve recently discovered a new favorite from Janet Blyberg, JCB. Janet was on the Attingham Program with me earlier this month (she supplies a terrific episodic account of the trip with amazing photographs). As an art historian and museum professional, she brings a smart sensibility to a wide range of topics — including lots of gems for dix-huitièmistes: postings, for instance, on Woodford Mansion in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park and the house built by the botanist John Bartram (also in Philadelphia). The food postings are pretty terrific, too.

In the midst of this media migration from paper to the digital realm (reinforced by the likes of Scribd), things will surely be lost . . . and lots gained. It seems to me that one challenge for scholarly publications is finding a way not simply to mimic the older paper versions but to take advantage of the potential for entirely new features that just weren’t possible previously. The likes of Style Court and JCB might just be doing crucial, experimental work with important implications for even stuffy, scholarly publications. They definitely make the world a brighter place.

Tome Tweet Tome?

Posted in opinion pages, site information, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on May 11, 2010

From the Editor

An admission: I’ve never tweeted, nor regularly followed anyone who does. I’m hardly opposed to Twitter on principle, and as someone who stresses to my students the importance of tightly-edited writing, I think there could be immense value in forcing individuals to communicate with just 140 characters at a time. Still, I’ve yet to be persuaded it’s for me. Nonetheless, the following pieces at least have me thinking about it (given that the text up to this point weighs in at 428 characters, I clearly have a long way to go).

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Jon Lackman, the editor of The Art History Newsletter, kindly sent me a link to this story, “Twitter Updates, the 18th-Century Edition,” posted at The Wall Street Journal by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries:

There aren’t too many things more 21st century than Twitter. But it turns out that the way people share information on Twitter bears some similarities to the way they shared it more than 200 years before the service was created in 2006, according to Cornell professor Lee Humphreys, who has been comparing messages from Twitter and those from diaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. A quick look at a few of the entries from several diaries shows that Twitter’s famous 140-character limit wouldn’t have been a problem for these writers:

April 27, 1770: Made Mead. At the assembly.
May 14, 1770: Mrs. Mascarene here and Mrs. Cownsheild. Taken very ill. The Doctor bled me. Took an anodyne.
Sept. 7, 1792: Fidelia Mirick here a visiting to-day.
Jan. 26, 1873: Cold disagreeable day. Felt very badly all day long and lay on the sofa all day. Nothing took place worth noting.

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Writing for The New York Times (30 April 2010), Randall Stross notes that today’s millions of tweets may in fact be the stuff of primary source material for future historians.

. . . Not a few are pure drivel. But, taken together, they are likely to be of considerable value to future historians. They contain more observations, recorded at the same times by more people, than ever preserved in any medium before.

“Twitter is tens of millions of active users. There is no archive with tens of millions of diaries,” said Daniel J. Cohen, an associate professor of history at George Mason University and co-author of a 2006 book, “Digital History.” What’s more, he said, “Twitter is of the moment; it’s where people are the most honest.”

Last month, Twitter announced that it would donate its archive of public messages to the Library of Congress, and supply it with continuous updates. . . .

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And if anyone’s looking for examples of art historical tweets, the following list of “100 Excellent Twitter Feeds for Art Scholars,” might be useful.

All the same, at this point, I’ve no immediate plans to tweet for Enfilade. Yet, if any HECAA members feel strongly that we’re missing out on something, I certainly am open to offers from interested volunteers. . . Or just your own sense of Twitter’s scholarly or institutional value. -C.H.

Spring Cleaning Your CV

Posted in graduate students, opinion pages, resources by Editor on March 25, 2010

The keyboard of a writing ball, seen from above. Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented this writing machine in 1865 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Editor

As we move into spring and past the high season for job interviews and fellowship deadlines, it may seem like a strange time to revise your CV. On the other hand, now might just be an ideal moment. Without the pressure of looming due dates, you might be able to approach the task with a clearer head and fresh energy. It might even feel constructive as opposed to being one more academic chore, another box to check in the process of submitting applications. Updating a CV can provide a useful means of assessing what you’ve accomplished in the recent past — and what sorts of holes you need to work to fill for the future. Again, there’s a tendency to push it off until some pressing deadline, but deadlines come with enough pressure without having to scramble to fix the CV (and those moments are rarely well-suited for taking stock of one’s scholarly and professional goals and progress).

A recent posting at The Art History Newsletter notes the return of the CV Doctor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article (written by Julie Miller Vick and Jennifer Furlong, authors of The Academic Job Search Handbook) includes ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples, including one from art historian, ‘Lucy Scholar’. The College Art Association includes models at its Standards and Guidelines pages for Art Historians (2003) and Museum Professionals (2000). And, notwithstanding the array of bad sites, there are plenty of useful resources across the web for improving your formatting.

Remarkably — though perhaps not surprisingly — prescriptions from academic bastions such The Chronicle and CAA offer minimal help in terms of updating the visual design for a CV. Here’s CAA’s recommendation:

Avoid making the cv complicated. Dramatic layouts and attempts to pad your cv will probably work against you. A beautifully constructed cv will not get you the job if your scholarship is weak.

I agree, but none of this is especially useful in terms of actually formatting a document, and the last sentence seems to harbor a funny suspicion that ultimately appearances are deceptive and thus not to be trusted. In any case, even if “your scholarship is weak” you’re surely under no obligation to make your CV look bad, too. (In an interesting way, this returns us to the bias against fashion in academic circles).

To be clear: an academic CV should conform to traditional visual standards. Yet, no one expects you to use a typewriter, and presumably doing so would be counted against you. The analogy, in fact, lies at the center of the argument made in Robin Williams’s wonderful book, The PC Is Not a Typewriter. Don’t let the publication date of 1995 put you off; it’s full of terrific advice that’s still all too timely. You’ll learn for instance, why it makes sense to use two spaces between sentences on a typewriter but is absurd to do so on a computer keyboard (the last time I surveyed my students on this point, the majority had still been instructed to keyboard with two spaces after each period). I’ve also found the advice at LifeClever Give Your Resume a Face Lift to be immensely useful, and the end result is hardly “dramatic” — just a much better formatted CV. Other resources or ideas? Feel free to comment. –C.H.

A Warm Welcome to a New Journal

Posted in opinion pages, resources by Editor on October 24, 2009

From the Editor

Last week, the Art History Newsletter noted the premier of a new online journal, Republics of Letters: A Journal for the Study of Knowledge, Politics, and the Arts. The posting concentrates on the editorial by Dan Edelstein addressing the question of theory’s role in the humanities today. For the issue of eighteenth-studies, the larger news is simply that such a journal now exists! With support from Stanford University and contributions for the first issue from the likes of Anthony Grafton, Paula Findlen, Peter Miller, and Margaret Jacob, the journal is positioned to garner considerable credibility and respect. It also seems to open up the possibility for thinking about the eighteenth century not in isolation but in relationship to the early modern period generally. Any number of changes occurred over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but in my own work, I have argued that we must be able to think of them together (at least from time to time) even if only to understand more fully the character of the changes that happened. That this new journal seems well placed to handle issues of both continuity and change is evident from Antoine Lilti’s contribution, “The Kingdom of Politesse: Salons and the Republic of Letters in Eighteenth-Century Paris,” in which he challenges Dena Goodman’s reliance upon the Republic of Letters as a way of understanding salon culture:

Using the notion of the Republic of Letters, however, to think about the salons is misguided because it leads us to misinterpret both the historical significance of the salons and the social history of the Enlightenment. It induces us to consider salons as literary or intellectual venues, whereas they were, above all, the social spaces of elite leisure. Moreover, it entails odd consequences: that eighteenth-century salons had nothing to do with their predecessors of the age of Louis XIII and Louis XIV or with their nineteenth-century successors; that they stood totally apart from the royal court; that women who received guests in their homes were moved by the desire to contribute to an intellectual endeavor. The aim of this paper is to show that it is much more effective to think about the salons as the main institution of cultural sociability for social elites, and then to understand why the philosophes spent so much time there. . . .

As a site for sociability, they [Parisian salons] were, above all, venues of entertainment for polite elites, and were deeply rooted in court society. The ideal which guided the writers who attended these salons—Morellet, Thomas, Marmontel, and many others—was not the Republic of Letters, but Parisian high society (le monde), where some men of letters, polite and successful, were welcomed because they conformed to aristocratic norms. In other words, they were dreaming about the kingdom of politesse rather than the Republic of Letters.

Whether one is convinced by the argument is, of course, a separate matter. Personally, though, I’m thrilled that there’s now a space so well-suited for such scholarly debates.

-Craig Hanson

Latest Count

Posted in opinion pages by Editor on October 2, 2009

Thanks so much to all of you for getting Enfilade off to such a fine start! During the first four months, the reader count has continued to grow. September saw over 2500 visits! For readers new to the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture, let me stress that anyone with interests in the period is most welcome to join. Annual dues are entirely reasonable, and it’s easy to pay via PayPal (click here for more information).

In light of the numbers, I hope HECAA members will continue to send news items, personal updates, and larger contributions. Your colleagues are genuinely interested in what you’re doing, and there are readers out there! Please feel free to share suggestions, too. The site is still certainly a work in progress. Thanks, in particular, to Heather Jensen, whose account of the Juliette Récamier exhibition and colloquium will appear in tomorrow’s posting, and thanks again to all of you for reading.

-Craig Hanson

Getting away for the Weekend

Posted in on site, opinion pages by Editor on September 4, 2009

Editor’s Note

Rather perversely, I typically begin the first class session of a new semester by having students introduce themselves and then share one place they would like to be — anywhere in the world — at that particular moment. Just when I’m supposed to get everyone back on board with the routines of academic life, it’s just much more fun to indulge in a bit of daydreaming. My pedagogical rationale goes something like this: art history may begin with slides in a dark lecture hall, but it ultimately requires a curiosity and fascination about the world that will take students far and wide. And indeed, for the course to work, imagination (maybe even desire) turns out to be vital.

So on this Labor Day Weekend, I thought that I myself might indulge in a game of ‘where would I like to be?’ The UK’s Landmark Trust rents some remarkable historic properties — from three days to three weeks. As noted on the organization’s website, the Trust “is a building preservation charity, founded in 1965 by the late Sir John Smith and Lady Smith. It was established to rescue historic and architecturally interesting buildings and their surroundings from neglect and, when restored, to give them new life by letting them as places to experience for holidays.” Here’s a sampling (photos and descriptions come from the Trust website, though the italicized bits are my additions). I’m not sure I can narrow it down any further, but maybe if I think about it just a bit longer . . .

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The Bath House, near Stratford-upon-Avon

Just right to prepare oneself for the upcoming Delany exhibition

The benefits of a cold bath were held to be almost limitless by medical opinion of the eighteenth century and many country houses were equipped with one. The Bath House here, it is thought, was designed in 1748 by the gentleman-architect Sanderson Miller for his friend Sir Charles Mordaunt. Good historical fun was had by all: the rough masonry of Antiquity, used for the bath chamber, is contrasted with the polished smoothness of the new Augustan age seen in the room above, where the bathers recovered. Even in the upper room there is a hint of the subterranean, with a dome hung with coolly dripping icicles. Here the walls have also been frosted with shells, arranged in festoons as if ‘by some invisible sea-nymph or triton for their private amusement’. This was the idea of Mrs Delany, better known for her flower pictures, who advised the Mordaunt daughters on where to find the shells. Their work was skilfully reproduced by Diana Reynell, after terrible damage by vandals. The Bath House, at the end of a long and gated drive, has one main room to live in, but in its deep woodland setting, so near to the Forest of Arden, ‘you may fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world’.

d9746e67-3857-4dd7-a15e-a61653030a0a Auchinleck House, Ochiltree, Ayrshire

The perfect place to celebrate Johnson’s 300th birthday (September 18th)

Perhaps the finest example of an eighteenth-century country villa to survive in Scotland, Auchinleck House is where the renowned biographer James Boswell indulged his penchant for ‘old laird and family ideas’. Built around 1760 by Boswell’s father Lord Auchinleck, its architect is unknown; it seems likely that Lord Auchinleck himself had a hand in the neo-Classical design, perhaps influenced by the Adam brothers. Boswell’s friend and mentor Dr. Samuel Johnson famously argued over politics with Lord Auchinleck in the library here, when they visited at the end of their tour of the Hebrides in 1773. Once inherited by Boswell, the house was host to much ‘social glee’, which he recorded in his Book of Company and Liquors. Auchinleck House itself expresses the rich spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, combining Classical purity in the main elevation with a baroque exuberance in the pavilions and the elaborately carved pediment. We have restored not only the house with its magnificent library looking across to Arran, but also the pavilions, the obelisks and the great bridge across the Dippol Burn, on whose picturesque banks are an ice-house and grotto. Visitors to the house pass beneath an extract, chosen from Horace by Lord Auchinleck, carved into the pediment: Quod petis, hic est, Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus (‘Whatever you seek is here, in this remote place, if only you have a good firm mind’). We are sure this will speak as clearly to those who stay at Auchinleck today as it did to James Boswell himself.

0997fd3c-a9da-4164-95c7-c396362be537Fox Hall, Charlton, West Sussex

A Palladian idyll perhaps?

Charlton is just a small village, but at one time, when the Charlton Hunt was famous and fashionable, its name was familiar and dear to every sportsman in England. Even Goodwood was described as ‘near Charlton’. The hunt was founded in the 1670s by the Duke of Monmouth and was continued after his death by his son-in-law the Duke of Bolton and then by the Duke of Richmond. Apart from the sport, what attracted highspirited noblemen here, surely, was that they could live in lodgings away from the constraints of home. They clubbed together and built a dining-room for themselves, which they christened ‘Fox Hall’, designed by Lord Burlington, no less, and here ‘these votaries of Diana feasted after the chase and recounted the feats of the day’. Not to miss such affairs and to be in good time for the meets, the Duke of Richmond commissioned the small Palladian building that we now possess. The designer of this rich sample of architecture, built in 1730, was most probably Lord Burlington’s assistant Roger Morris. It consists of a plain brick box with a small stylish hall and staircase leading to one magnificent room above, undoubtedly Britain’s premier bedsit. There is a gilded alcove for the Duke’s bed and in the pediment over the fireplace an indicator shows the direction of the wind, important information for the fox hunter. The front door to all this grandeur leads very sensibly straight to the stable yard. In the 1750s the Hunt was moved away from Charlton to Goodwood. The old Fox Hall disappeared and somehow its name was transferred to our building a few yards off, which, grievously altered, for a long time housed the manager of the Duke of Richmond’s sawmill. So far as possible we have given it back its original form.

0f27257d-86ee-48c6-8fde-0f930e84f3c6The Library, Stevenstone, near Great Torrington, Devon

A lovely place to finish that article

The Library, and its smaller companion the Orangery, stand in well-mannered incongruity beside the ruins of Victorian Stevenstone, with the remains of a grand arboretum around them. Stevenstone was rebuilt by the very last of the Rolles in 1870, but these two pavilions survive from an earlier remodelling of 1710–20. The façade of the Library, with its giant order and modillion cornice, looks like the work of a lively, probably local, mason-architect, familiar with the work of such as Talman and Wren. Why a library in the garden? It probably started life as a perfectly ordinary banqueting house and only assumed its more learned character later on. Why it should have done so is a mystery, of a pleasantly unimportant kind. By the time we first saw it, when it came up for sale in 1978, the bookshelves had been dispersed and the Library had been a house for many years, the fine upper room divided and the loggia closed in, while the Orangery was about to collapse altogether. We put new roofs on both buildings and, on the Library, a new eaves cornice carved from 170 feet of yellow pine by a local craftsman, Richard Barnett. The loggia is open again, and the main room has returned to its full size. To stay in this particularly handsome building, even without the books, is an enlightening experience.

82edede9-08bb-4f99-9cee-2d0ea10ae0edThe House of Correction, Folkingham, Lincolnshire

For fantasies of a Sadean bent?

Folkingham is one of those agreeable places that are less important than they used to be. It has a single very wide street, lined on each side by handsome buildings, with a large eighteenth-century inn across the top end. Behind the houses, to the east, lie the moat and earthworks of a big medieval castle. The House of Correction occupies the site of this castle. These minor prisons were originally intended for minor offenders – the idle (regarded as subversive) and the disorderly. Folkingham had a house of correction by 1611, replaced in 1808 by a new one built inside the castle moat and intended to serve the whole of Kesteven. This was enlarged in 1825 and given a grand new entrance. In 1878 the prison was closed and the inner buildings converted into ten dwellings, all demolished in 1955. The grand entrance alone survives. It was designed by Bryan Browning, an original and scholarly Lincolnshire architect also responsible for the Sessions House at Bourne. It is a bold and monumental work, borrowing from the styles of Vanbrugh, Sanmichele and Ledoux. Apart from cowing the malefactor it was intended to house the turnkey, and the Governor’s horses and carriage. Now it gives entrance only to a moated expanse of grass – a noble piece of architecture in a beautiful and interesting place.

163717ac-cb0b-4f95-afea-72d859252b4dPiazza di Spagna, Rome

An ideal base for tracking the footsteps of Keats and Shelley (although most of the properties are in the UK, there are some notable exceptions)

All architects, and many artists, owe a debt to Rome, and we had long wanted a foothold there. So when the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association launched an appeal for funds to maintain 26 Piazza di Spagna, we asked whether there was a part of it that we could occupy in return for helping them. Happily there was, a flat on the third floor, now restored by us to its condition in about 1800 – spacious rooms with tiled floors and high, beamed ceilings painted in soft colours. The house itself was built around 1600, but owes its external appearence today to changes made by Francesco de Sanctis in 1724–5. Our apartment is not the rooms in which Keats died in 1821 – those are on the floor below – but they are identical in form and layout, and are more in a condition he would recognise. Every tall shuttered window has a view unchanged almost since the days of the Grand Tour, and the sitting-room looks up the Spanish Steps – certainly the world’s grandest and most sophisticated outdoor staircase – to the church of S. Trinita dei Monti at the top. At the front door is Bernini’s fountain in the form of a stone boat sinking into the Piazza di Spagna. There is hardly any motor traffic, but instead all the noises of humanity, some of them very unusual – for example when the steps are cleared by water-cannon, or when the horsedrawn cabs, which form a rank at the far end of the Piazza, arrive over the cobbles, seemingly at dawn and at a gallop. The Steps were designed in 1721 by Francesco de Sanctis, who also designed this house to fit in with his plan. It was probably apartments from the first, in a part of the city long frequented by foreign and particularly English visitors. There can be few places in Rome available to their successors so central, so handsome, so famous or so unaltered as this.

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Enjoy the weekend. Enfilade will be back on Tuesday.

-Craig Hanson

Conservation Costs or Savings?

Posted in opinion pages by Editor on August 11, 2009

In the midst of the latest budget cuts, conservation professionals face numerous challenges, and at least the near future looks turbulent. In addition to reductions in museum departments, the Art Newspaper reported on 23 July 2009 that London’s V&A and the Royal College of Art are ending their jointly operated conservation program – this just several months after the Textile Conservation Centre at the University of Southampton announced its upcoming fall closure. It looked as though Conservation Online (CoOL) had also met its end, as Stanford announced earlier this summer that it could no longer support the digital forum (after 22 years). In the past few weeks, however, the American Institute for Conservation has agreed to take over responsibility for the forum used by thousands of conservators around the world (particularly its “DistList”). The AIC is the national membership organization for conservation professionals in the U.S. with members in over twenty countries. The institute’s website offers useful information not only for conservators but also individuals wanting to know more about the field.

With over a quarter of American collecting institutions lacking environmental controls and fewer than a third possessed of a current survey of the condition of their collections, it is presumably only a matter of time before we appreciate how costly ignoring conservation can be.

[Statistics, from the AIC website, come from A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections © 2005 Heritage Preservation, Inc.]

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