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The 18th International Congress of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) took place in Melbourne, Australia at the invitation of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM), from Tuesday 10 October through Saturday 14 October 2000. This was the first IIC conference to be held in the southern hemisphere and its theme was a broad one, of interest to all our members. As we celebrated both the 50th anniversary of IIC's foundation and the new millennium, speakers — both on the platform and in their written papers — concentrated on how the experience of conservation past informs the ideas of conservation present and future, placing their intentions and conclusions firmly in the context of continually changing perspectives in conservation. The congress aimed to bring together conservators and restorers, whether in museums or in private practice, conservation scientists and historians, curators, collection managers, educators and students.

More than 150 proposals were received in response to the call for papers and the Technical Committee — Bob Barclay (Canadian Conservation Institute), Colin Pearson (University of Canberra), René de la Rie (National Gallery of Art, Washington), David Saunders (National Gallery, London), Nicholas Stanley-Price (Institute of Archaeology, University College London) and David Bomford, Secretary-General of IIC — invited 65 authors to submit a draft text of their full paper. On the basis of these drafts, the Technical Committee selected the papers for publication in the preprints and presentation at the congress. Members of the Technical Committee also made a selection of posters for display.

The official language of the congress was English. We regret that we were unable to provide simultaneous translation in the many languages that will be represented at the congress.

Congress Venue
Melbourne is Australia's second largest city with a population of over three million. Situated on the shores of Port Phillip Bay it owes much of its character to the wealth created in Australia in the mid nineteenth century Gold Rushes. Known today for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, the city was looking at its best during the congress in the middle of the southern hemisphere spring.

Melbourne Town Hall was the venue for the congress. Situated in the heart of the city on Swanston Street, this grand building has been the hub of civic and cultural activity for the people of Melbourne since the 1870s. All formal and technical sessions of the congress took place in the main auditorium, with poster sessions and the associated trade fair in adjoining rooms, allowing easy flow between these areas during the programme breaks.