Celebrating Diversity – 6th Student and Emerging Conservator Conference, Lisbon 2021

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IIC-SECC "The Faces of Conservation" poster
By Mariana Escamilla Martínez
 
From the 14th to the 16th of October 2021, the 6th edition of the IIC-Student and Emerging Conservator Conference took place. We asked conference participants and speakers to give their opinion on the event as part of this review.
 
The title of this year’s conference, The Faces of Conservation, incorporates wordplay that joins the different “faces” of the conservation profession, aiming at the diversity and interdisciplinary role of the profession, as well as the different “phases” conservators go through while deciding the different pathways their profession might take.
 
Due to travel restrictions and the active pandemic, the local organizing committee (LOC)—directed by Ana Tourais, Catarina Pires and Rute Rebocho —decided early on in the planning to host the conference fully online. Although the decision posed new challenges for the team, this option opened the possibility for other exciting activities. Not hindered by travel, speakers and moderators were gathered from every continent. The LOC took special care in considering the various specialties in the field as well.
 
The LOC put together virtual visits to museums by interviewing professionals from the National Museum of Ancient Art, the National Museum of Archaeology, the National Museum of Natural History and Science, the University of Lisbon and the Torre do Tombo National Archive as well as video tours of the University of Nova, Lisboa. If you would like to experience the studio and museum visits, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVpJXMl8A73AJgoA7_npLMw
 
The first session reflected on the connection between research and science in conservation and restoration. Speakers Austin Nevin, Catherine Smith and Hwang HyunSung, with Joana Lia Ferreira as moderator, discussed the collaboration between science and conservation.
 
The second session included more amazing speakers from around the world; Sandra Šustić Cvetković, Mamta Mishra, Carmen Royo Fraguas, and Mónica Sánchez discussed, together with participants and moderator Elis Marçal, the different pathways young professionals can take to work as a conservator-restorer.
 
The panel of the third and last session, “Preventive Conservation and Management”, discussed the value of preventive practice and management positions in collaboration with, or led by, conservation professionals. The speakers, Jenny Williamson, Robert Waller, Natasha Herman and Sara Abram, moderated by Hélia Marçal, offered a platform to discuss further concerns about collaboration with other institutional professionals.
 
In review, we asked some conference participsnts to share their thoughts with us:
 
“It was truly inspiring to see how many nationalities joined this year’s conference. Not only participants but the speakers [as well were] from all continents. It was a real highlight to see how diverse the profession is and how we all have common interests. I was drawn to the third session a lot. I admired what the speakers have reached and all their input on collaborative experiences with museum professionals.” (Anonymous Participant, Emerging Conservator, Rome, Italy)
 
“I enjoyed it! The online format allowed me to participate in a way that [would otherwise] not [have been] financially feasible at this present time. I have had an inkling to develop my own private practice for years now, but I've been hesitant. This conference gave me the push I needed to finally get serious with my career as a conservator.” (Joelle Salkey, Kingston, Jamaica, National Gallery of Jamaica, MA Museology and Conservation of Objects of Cultural and Natural Heritage)
 
“The online format was great. The technology all worked very well, and the panel format for questions and discussion was very successful. It had an easy, relaxed feel to it which was due to the skilful chairing of the sessions, but also partly [due to] it's online nature because we were more relaxed in our own homes.” (Jenny Williamson – Speaker, ACR Paintings Conservator, The National Library of Wales Aberystwyth and The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea)
 
“By being a fully online conference, I was able to attend and actively participate despite having to go to my atelier on those dates. By joining the conference openly at work, other colleagues were able to hear the thoughts and discussions. The sessions I attended inspired me to continue networking with fellow conservators.” (Moritz Geissmann – Conference Participant, Munich, Germany, Emerging Conservator in Private Practice, BA Conservation and Restoration of Easel Paintings)
 
“Though actually meeting attendees would add [a] more personal touch, [the] online form, on the other hand, allows… [for] easier conference attendance. The organization was great; the team was fully dedicated to the task. The overall experience of the conference was excellent!!! Session 1 “Conservation sciences and research” was the most interesting for me. Being both an engineer and a conservator-restorer, I find inspiration in approaching cultural heritage objects through their material dimension and applying engineering and scientific knowledge for their protection, but at the same time respecting their value and identity.” (Radmila Damjanović, Belgrade, Serbia, PhD Student in Materials Engineering, MA Conserver-Restorer of Sculptures and Archaeological Artefacts)
 
Once more, the IIC-Student and Emerging Conservator Conference was successful in connecting students internationally. With over 250 registrations and over 66 nationalities, hailing from every continent, this year’s conference was the most widely attended and diverse of all previous SECC events, thus continuing the networking and growth of the global IIC emerging conservator community.
 
All sessions from this year’s SECC, and past years, are now available on the IIC YouTube channel HERE, and you can also watch the amazing video tours of Lisbon Museum's Conservation Laboratories, first streamed as part of our Student & Emerging Conservator Conference 2021.
 
 
(Read the article in the December-January 2022 "News in Conservation" Issue 87, p. 38-39)
 
   
Home Page Intro: 
The title of this year’s conference, The Faces of Conservation, incorporates wordplay that joins the different “faces” of the conservation profession, aiming at the diversity and interdisciplinary role of the profession, as well as the different “phases” conservators go through while deciding the different pathways their profession might take.
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