The 2008 IIC Congress scored a notable success on its return to London after 41 years. The theme Conservation and Access attracted over 460 delegates to the event, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, opposite Westminster Abbey. IIC Secretary-General, David Leigh, said This has undoubtedly been a pivotal event. Conservators addressed the topic from every angle: it is clear that they are the heritage professionals who are taking the lead in defining access: conservators are exploring the boundaries of collecting, what it means to present heritage to the public and how they can make heritage available and meaningful to current and future generations using the science and skills at their disposal.
Blessed by the first good London weather for weeks, delegates enjoyed over 40 presentations, all in the comfort of this award-winning conference centre, with a dynamic trade fair and several evening receptions. These included the Museum of London, the British Museum where delegates also enjoyed a private view of the Hadrian Exhibition and saw the BM's own conservation exhibition- and the Victoria & Albert Museum, where Mark Jones, the Director, stressed the central role of conservation in making access possible. For many, the social highlight was a riverboat trip down the Thames, to the accompaniment of good food and music. On the last day delegates set off for tours of National Trust properties, including Uppark, Petworth, Knole and Scotney, as well as London museum conservation facilities and Westminster Abbey.
On the Wednesday evening a well attended event took place at the National Gallery: a roundtable discussion on Climate Change and Museum Collections. This was the first in a series of IIC Dialogues for the new century: Roundtable discussions on the conservation of cultural heritage in a changing world . Speakers included James M. Reilly, Director, Image Permanence Institute, New York, Professor Christina Sabbioni, of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Italy, and Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate. They spoke of the threat posed by climate change to the heritage, and of the need to mitigate museums' energy consumption. A full transcript of the evening's presentations and discussions will be on this website shortly.
Jerry Podany, President of IIC, said "The conservation profession is facing increasingly complex challenges today, including the demands placed on us by climate change and the increasing demands for access to cultural property. This conference has provided a conduit for openly exploring those challenges and the potential solutions to them. Clearly, given the overwhelmingly positive response to IIC's efforts, the need for such a dialogue was significant and we intend to continue to support and encourage such communication through our programming."
The full programme can still be seen on the congress website.