It's a Material World

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Jones, Samuel;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 55, Number 4, p.242-249 (2010)


Conservation, as a profession, is facing a series of challenges. The closure of training courses is a well-documented and depressing reality, from Australia to the UK. Within institutions, conservators have found it increasingly difficult to fight their corner as the nature of the museum sector changes. New demands are being made on organizations in receipt of public money and, in the wake of the financial crisis, funding will become even harder to come by. At the same time, social and technological changes have altered the operating environment of many sectors in all walks of life as the public come to have new expectations and the concept of the professional and expert changes. Conservation is no exception. However, these changes bring opportunities as well as challenges. Building on the Demos pamphlet It's a Material World (2008), this paper argues that conservators constantly deal with ideas and concepts that are at the very heart of the public realm, caring for the values around which society is built. Drawing on these and making them explicit could help the profession make its case anew, and could also help policy-makers – and society – meet some of the most significant challenges that we collectively face.