Turin - Piazza Castello © Enrico Aretini
In the News

Preventive Conservation: The State of the Art

During the last quarter of a century preventive conservation has developed greatly, moving to the centre stage of museum, site and heritage management. The 27th Biennial Congress attracted the best minds in conservation from around the world. Hundreds of people from over 53 countries came together to generate discussion and explored the biggest issues that exercise our field.

The Congress is now over, but you can get a flavour of what happened on our blogs  covering most sessions which you can view here . Many also tweeted about the Congress at #IICTurin2018. You can also watch the whole of our Point of the Matter Dialogue 'Culture Cannot Wait' here.

We were also pleased that XpectralTEK supported two Poster Prizes. The prizes were presented at the Closing Ceremony on Friday 14 September 2018,  further details will be available shortly promoting the winning and commended posters.

A special feature of this year's Congress was the joint IIC ‘Point of the Matter’ Dialogue on Wednesday 12 September 2018, 11am to 12.45pm - Culture Cannot Wait: Integrating Cultural Heritage First Aid with Humanitarian Assistance in Crisesorganised in collaboration with ICCROM (the International Conservation Centre in Rome). You can read more about the Dialogue on our blog here and we will shortly have a recording of the session available to view.

Read all about it here.

Workshop team. © Institute of Conservation, University of Applied Arts Vienna. Photo: Christoph Schleßmann

Review by Tanushree Gupta, Gabriela Krist, Johanna Runkel
Institute of Conservation, University of Applied Arts Vienna

Raising the standards of conservation training and contributing to the improvement of conservation practices for shared cultural heritage have been the objectives of a long-term India-Austria collaboration. The Embassy of India in Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna – Institute of Conservation, organized a workshop entitled, “Conservation of Cultural Heritage – Materials and Equipment in Conservation Today” which was held from April 23 to 25, 2018. The goal of this workshop was to share advancements in conservation methods, tools, and technology with practicing conservators from India. This workshop also aimed to develop partnerships between Indian and Austrian industries for the manufacture and sale of precision tools and equipment in India.

The masterclass participants, 20│21 Staff, and teachers Maria Chatzidakis, Will Shank and Pedro Soares Neves. Image taken by Marta Palmeira.

Review by Grazia Cavanna

This masterclass was organized by 20│21 Conservação e Restauro de Arte Contemporânea and was held in Porto, Portugal on 14th and 15th of June 2018. The workshop was led by two major street art conservation experts: Maria Chatzidakis, lecturer at T.E.I. of Athens and co-founder of Street Art Conservators (St.A.Co), and Will Shank, independent conservator and curator, co-founder and co-chair of Rescue Public Murals.

Street art and urban creativity is a complex and interesting theme that is gaining importance in different fields connected with visual arts including art production, aesthetics, city planning, urban culture, cultural studies, propriety, copyright, and of course conservation.

Malcolm Gillespie (1944-1918). Photo courtesy of Lee Holland

By Graham Voce

We are sad to record the passing of Malcolm Gillespie, artist and designer, who was for over ten years an important and valued part of the IIC team.

Malcolm became involved with IIC to work on News in Conservation and produced many editions with the IIC paper’s editors, continuing to do this after the publication transitioned from a paper to an electronic format. Malcolm also designed many other items of IIC print work and was involved in the implementation of the recent IIC visual identity developments, helping to make sure that IIC continues to present an effective and modern face to the world in the ways we interact with members and the public, across electronic and print formats.

Apart from IIC, Malcolm also worked with many publications for the United Kingdom’s Institute for Conservation (Icon) and was the lead designer on Icon’s magazine Icon News for many years.

Dr. Robert Feller in the laboratory of the Mellon Institute's Research Center on the Materials of the Artist and Conservator. Image courtesy of Paul Whitmore

By Paul Whitmore

The art conservation world lost a towering figure with the passing on August 3, 2018, of Dr. Robert L. Feller in Pittsburgh, PA, at the age of 98. Dr. Feller, Bob to his friends, devoted his life to providing the scientific research essential to the advancement of conservation practice. He was a pioneer and the leading practitioner of the emerging discipline of art conservation science research.

IIC Council Members and IGIIC at the council meeting in Turin this past September. Image by Sharra Grow

By Julian Bickersteth

The IIC Council met for two days prior to the Turin Congress at the offices of the IIC Italian group in Turin, IGIIC.

Members of the Congress local organising committee from IGIIC joined for part of the meeting as did IIC's News in Conservation editor, Sharra Grow and ICCROM's Catherine Antomarchi. Apart from considering and endorsing 9 new Fellows to go to the membership for approval, Council used much of the time to consider the strategic direction of the Institute, responding to the new IIC Strategic Plan 2018-2021. This had been prepared and was presented by the Executive Director Sarah Stannage.

By Julian Bickersteth and Sharra Grow

One of the highlights of the IIC Turin Congress was the Point of the Matter dialogue jointly presented by ICCROM and IIC, “Culture Cannot Wait: Integrating Cultural Heritage First Aid with Humanitarian Assistance in Crises”. The collaboration between IIC and ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) provided an opportunity to renew a long standing MOU between the two organisations.

These two peak bodies in the conservation world are both products of The Second World War, which resulted in such a massive and widespread destruction of cultural property that a great international interest in their protection spurred the formation of several organizations and institutions.


Thomas Chase being presented an Honorary Fellowship by IIC President, Sarah Staniforth at the IIC 2018 Turin Congress. Image by Mikkel Scharff.

During the IIC 2018 Turin Congress this past September, W. Thomas Chase was presented with an Honorary IIC Fellowship for his contributions and achievements in the field of conservation.

Educated in conservation and art history at Oberlin College and the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, Tom first found his way to the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution for a student fellowship under the supervision of Rutherford J. Gettens. Upon completing his Master’s degree at NYU he returned to the Freer in 1966 as assistant conservator under Gettens and became Head Conservator in 1968.

Akira Horiuchi, Ig Nobel Prize winner for medical education, 2018. Photo Alexey Eliseev.

On September 13 in CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA, the 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes, honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then think, were awarded at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre tonight before 1,100 spectators in a ceremony filled with paper airplanes, hearts, and ten-trillion dollar bills.

This was the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Most of the new winners journeyed to Harvard — at their own expense — to accept their Prizes. Each winning team also received cash — a ten-trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe.

The Ig Nobel Prizes were physically handed to the winners by genuine Nobel laureates. The laureates in attendance include Eric Maskin (economics, 2007), Wolfgang Ketterle (physics, 2001), Oliver Hart (economics, 2016), and Michael Rosbash (physiology or medicine, 2017).

Promotional poster for Namibian Heritage Week. Image courtesy of the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN).

The National Museum of Namibia first decided to start an annual Museum Day. With help from the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) who partnered with the Museum, this day was spread throughout all fourteen regions of the country. The day was extended to a week-long celebration when the National Heritage council and other stakeholders joined in, officially making the celebration Namibian Heritage Week. This year, Namibian Heritage Week 2018 was held from 17-23 September.

The Heritage Week Team, made up of Namibia’s major heritage institutions, worked together to create a campaign encouraging Namibians to celebrate, visit, and protect the country’s natural and cultural heritage. This year’s theme was “Turuganeni Kumwe” which means “Let’s work together” in Rukwangali.

The C Word Logo based on artwork by Jenny Mathiasson.

By Jenny Mathiasson, Kloe Rumsey, and Christina Rozeik

Lots of conservators spend long hours at the workbench or commute to their place of work: that can be pretty lonely. If you own a pair of headphones you can now have some company via a podcast called The C Word: The Conservators’ Podcast. You may have heard of us!

Podcasts are hardly a new thing, but one aimed at conservators in particular is surprisingly novel; our show can be listened to by anyone in the heritage industry but at the core we’re all about talking conservation. We approach a variety of subjects from the angle of being conservators, and our aim is to get people talking and thinking about their opinions and experiences as professionals.

The Napier Museum in Trivandrum, Kerala © Napier Museum, Gasnafar.

By Johanna Runkel, Gabriela Krist, Tanushree Gupta

The Institute of Conservation of the University of Applied Arts Vienna has been active in Trivandrum in Kerala, South India since 2016. The main project partner is Napier Museum, one of the oldest museums in the country, with a high-quality collection of bronze and wooden sculptures, coins, furniture, and temple pieces from the region. The project’s aim is to implement strategies for collection care and preventive conservation in the Museum and thus improve the conditions for preserving the collection. Preventive conservation includes all measures that endeavour to avoid and minimize future deterioration or loss, already in the run-up phase. The measures are indirect; they are carried out within the context - or on the surroundings - of the individual objects and the collection as a whole.

The on-site conservation studio is situated behind the altarpiece in full view of the public. Image by Villu Plink.

By Rachel C. Sabino

This massive, multi-year project centers around the conservation and technical analysis of the altarpiece of the high altar of St. Nicholas´ Church in Tallinn (1478–1481). The double-winged retable, completed in the workshop of the famous Lübeck master Hermen Rode, is one of the most grand and best preserved examples of late medieval Hanseatic art in Europe. More than forty saints and biblical figures are depicted, and its dimensions (approximately 6 x 3.5 meters) place it among the largest of its type.

The IIC Mentoring Scheme was launched at the 2018 Turin IIC Congress and we now are looking for mentors and mentees to join the scheme to share skills and knowledge throughout the international conservation community that is IIC.

The IIC Mentoring Scheme will allow an exchange and fostering of ideas and is the chance for more experienced members of the international conservation profession to share experiences, knowledge and lessons learned with colleagues in a specified mentor / mentee relationship over the space of twelve months. It will also allow professional ideas and experiences to be shared across the world, as IIC members from all countries are welcome to participate in the Scheme. We are looking to match IIC Fellows as mentors with IIC members (post-Masters level graduation) as mentees.

Winning Poster at the IIC 2018 Turin Congress by Ana Martins et al. courtesy of the authors

This year at the IIC 2018 Turin Congress marked the first Poster Prize Awards, sponsored by Xpectraltek. A prize was awarded to the winning student poster and the winning main poster displayed at the Congress.

In judging the student posters, the Technical Committee and the Student Poster Committee were impressed by the very high standards, making this a difficult choice. However, the Xpectraltek Student Poster Prize was awarded to the poster, ‘Effects of a Preparatory Treatment on Debarked Maize Stems, a Constituent Material of Lightweight Sculptures in New Spain,’ by Alfredo Adolfo Ortega-Ordaz with his co-authors Esteban Sánchez-Rodríguez, Luis Rojas-Abarca, Ángela Ku-González, Carlos Cruz-Cárdenas and Emanuel Bojórquez-Quintal. The Student Poster Prize, sponsored by Xpectraltek, consists of a contribution of £150 towards the winner’s future studies and a full student membership of IIC for 2018–2019.

Our Point of the Matter Dialogue “Culture Cannot Wait: Integrating  Cultural Heritage First Aid with Humanitarian Assistance in Crises” was delivered at the Turin Congress on September 12 2018,  organised in conjunction with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). You can now watch the whole film here.

IIC is deeply dismayed to hear the terrible news of the devastating fire that has consumed the National Museum of Brazil, the country's oldest and most distinguished museum. Situated in the former Imperial palace of São Cristóvão, the fire appears to have also destroyed its extraordinary and unique collection of some 20 million specimens and artefacts.

Emergency evacuation at Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum coordinated by Nepal army in 2015; Photo: Aparna Tandon, ICCROM

Emergency evacuation at Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum coordinated
by Nepal army in 2015; Photo: Aparna Tandon, ICCROM

IIC Point of the Matter Dialogue in Turin, Italy on 12 September 2018


In early September seven remarkable speakers including conservators, soldiers and firefighters will explore why preserving heritage is essential for the psycho-social recovery of societies. IIC in collaboration with ICCROM will be hosting a panel discussion as part of the Point of the Matter Dialogue series, bringing together seven specialists who have worked to conserve heritage through war, earthquakes and disaster.

IIC are saddened to hear of the recent death of IIC Honorary Fellow Robert L Feller. A research scientist by training, Bob Feller was the first National Gallery of Art Fellow at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh in 1950, where he spent his entire career until his retirement in 1988. His research work focused on the evaluation of artist's paints, papers and varnishes, and led to over 100 publications. His work was critical in bringing about the widespread use of stable polymers such as Acryloid/Paraloid B-72 in conservation along with ISO Blue Wool standards as dosimeters for light exposure.

A full obituary will be carried in the October edition of IIC’s <em>News in Conservation.</em>