Tag Archives: AIC

Audio Podcast: Rachel Penniman on giving voice to emerging conservators

When it comes to the protection of cultural resources for the long haul, conservators are on the front lines: providing hands-on TLC, whether it’s in a museum or at the scene of a natural disaster. Now, a new group has formed to provide a support network for young conservators and newcomers to the field. Rachel Penniman is the chair of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network. In this podcast, she discusses how the group is using the social web to give a voice to the next generation of heritage caretakers.


Jeff: Welcome to the Voices of the Past podcast. I’m Jeff Guin, and today I will be talking to Rachel Penniman, president of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network.

Hi Rachel, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for being here.

Rachel: Oh of course! I am excited to get some of this information out there.

Jeff: Now how long have you been with the Emerging Conservation Professional Network?

Rachel: I have been helping out trying to develop it for over a year now, but I have only been chair for, I think it has been four or five months in sort of the official capacity.

Jeff: OK. Tell us a little bit about what the group does. What is its purpose?

Rachel: The purpose of ECPN is  to help emerging conservators, people who are new to the field network with each other as well as sort of more established conservators in the field. It’s such a small field, it can be difficult getting started. Meeting people, knowing how to get into the field, knowing what sort of experiences to get and then knowing where to get those experiences. So we are hoping that by providing more of the network where those emerging conservators can talk to each other or people who are just a little bit ahead of them–they’ll have a better resource to help them get started.

Jeff: And how have folks responded to your efforts?

Rachel: So far we have gotten a really positive response both from emerging conservators as well as from established conservators.  We’ve gotten a number of emerging conservators who’ve been participating and contributing to our blog and our other sites. And a lot of established conservators who said, “gosh, this would have really helped me when I was getting started.” So it has been great to get the support across the board.

Penniman in action
Penniman conserves an Egyptian bronze during her 2007 internship at the Walters Art Museum

Jeff: Where can folks go to find out more about your blog?

Rachel: OK. The blog is emergingconservator.blogspot.com, and what you will find there are updates on what’s happening with ECPN in terms the running of it. You will find information about the conference calls that we have, minutes from that. You will also find information about workshops or educational opportunities or just general announcements that we think will be interesting or important to emerging conservators. And what we are hoping is that in the future we will get more emerging conservators to contribute content to this blog so that  it will be more than just the “bare bones” business sort of stuff but really interesting articles from students who might not have all those other outlets to get some of their research published or some of this information in print.

Jeff: Where you involved with blogging before this?

Rachel: Not very much and I have to admit, I am not really the super tech-savvy person. And so a lot of this I have been picking up as we go along and I have had a lot of people really help out. When we were first looking into starting a group for emerging conservators, Laura Brill and I were working at the Shelburne Museum. And we were working for Nancie Ravanel, and she is incredibly tech-savvy and really got us started with a lot of things. And Laura also, a lot of the stuff that we have set up now, she really was the one to get it going and start up. So I have definitely been helped a lot along the way.

Jeff: Who blogs at the site?

Rachel: I have been blogging. We have also had Katie Mullen. Steve Pickman just did one of our more recent posts about getting a library of books together to send to a different country.

Jeff: So, I’d like to hear a little bit more about the recent AIC meeting. I understand that this is where you had your group’s debut as far as your social media efforts. What did you do there and how did it change the feel of the conference for you?

Rachel: We did blog from the annual meeting and a number of people also posted on their personal Twitter accounts and it was definitely a different feel for me. I felt way more connected. I feel the annual meeting is always a lot going on at once; there are so many interesting talks going on at once. Everyone that I speak to who goes really feels like they’re always missing out on something. There’s always something interesting that they wanted to get to that they couldn’t make it to. But now, because there’s so much more sort of real time posting of what’s going on right now, what was really interesting in this talk that just happened, right now or five minutes ago. I think that people are able to discuss it more at the meeting in person. Like, there were talks that I didn’t go to that I heard a lot about just from reading Twitter posts. So, that was really interesting–it deepened the conversation that was going on there. I felt far more informed, also.

Jeff: Was that an intentional thing? Did you go with a plan that you were going to live blog the conference or you were going to Twitter the conference, or did it just happen on its own?

Rachel: No, there was definitely a plan to do it beforehand. There were a number of us who had offered to blog from the conference. I don’t know that we had discussed Twittering beforehand, but it seemed like sort of a natural extension of that. I think it definitely helped to have that plan in place before we went to really know that people were going to be there with their computers and ready and set up to go.

Jeff: What kind of impact do you think these tools are going to have on the future of conservation?

Rachel: I think there’s gonna be a lot more information getting out to conservators about research that’s happening, changes in the field, much faster than it has in the past. In the past, if you were using a new material, testing something out, trying a new technique, generally, you had to wait until a paper got published or until a talk was presented to a large conference for that information to be available across all sorts of people in the field. Now, we’ve got people like Nancie Ravenel, who has a Wiki online that’s talking about the really early stages of some research she’s doing with the new material, and she’s got people who are trying it out in other places, in other ways and contributing to this. There’s a lot of other information that’s really accessible early on, that I think makes it more exciting. These tests that I think are done in such small groups are so isolated; it’s more connected now.

Jeff: Right, and I know that some members of your organization advocate for open source and open sharing of research and allowing people to collaborate on research rather than keeping it close to the vest. What are you feelings on that?

Rachel: Personally, I think it’s a great idea. I feel like information is power and I can understand why many conservators are hesitant to get a lot of this information public. There’s always this concern that if you have all of this information on how to do treatments out there that people who don’t really know what they’re doing are going to try it out and possibly cause damage to something. However, even without that information out there, I think that, chances are, if somebody wants to try to treat something themselves, they’re going to find a way to do it and its not necessarily going to be the right way. I just, you know, my father comes from an information sciences background, so I’ve really grown up with this “information is power and if it’s not shared information, it’s lost–it’s useless.” So, that’s very deeply engrained in me.

Jeff: Excellent. Now, do you use any of these tools in your personal life, apart from the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network?

Rachel: I started a blog a while ago with an effort to keep in touch with family, and then did not keep up with it well at all, unfortunately. I think it’s one of those things you’ve really got to set aside the time for. So, I’m sure it’s out there. I’m sure somebody’s gonna find it and be like “wow, she’s not kidding, that’s pretty embarrassing.” There’s got to be, like, three posts on there, but I really did start out strong.

Jeff: Do you have a Twitter or a Friendfeed or use any of those social tools or even YouTube?

Rachel: I do Twitter, but mostly I’ve been just Twittering professionally. I always sort of felt like my life wasn’t interesting enough that everyone would want to read all of these things about what I was doing. I’m following quite a few people on Twitter; I have family members that I’m really keeping up with that way. I’m just not so good at the contributing on a personal level.

Jeff: Now, what is the role of your group in trying to get some of the folks that are in the traditional American Institute for Conservation group to adopt these technologies?

Rachel: I like to think of us as really good guinea pigs, actually, because we’re sort of a smaller group, a lot of the people in our group are a bit more tech-savvy. We’re trying to test some of this stuff out, like the Ning site or the blog … And I am sort of excited to see that AIC has started up a blog, I think that it’s a great way to get Information out there, and I think because we’re smaller, we can try some of this stuff out-maybe see how it works for us and then they can see if it is something that’s viable for the larger group. I think that’s a pretty exciting way to start things out. As for other things that we’ve got, hopefully in the future we’re trying to work on getting some podcasts together that emerging conservators can develop …

cleaning the bear
Penniman (left) and Laura Brill vacuum a grizzly bear at the Shelburne museum (Photo courtesy of Shelburne museum)

Jeff: Maybe even some training video or something like that.

Rachel: Yeah, that would be another great idea I think we’ve got–because emerging conservators are all over the place at all these different museums are tapped into this huge resource of connection like videos, audio, any other way to make it interesting for people–ways to get information out there. I think we’ve got a great resource for that.

Jeff: Well, Rachel thanks for joining me today. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Rachel: Just thank you for the opportunity to talk to about this; I really appreciate it.

Jeff: Well that’s it for this edition of the Voices of the Past Podcast. Now, if you’d like to read the transcript of this interview or learn more about how social media can be used to impact heritage in your world, visit our show notes site. That’s www.voicesofthepast.org. Until next time, this is Jeff Guin and we’ll see you online.

Top five sources for disaster response information

With the frequency of epic disasters in recent years, the preservation community is quickly adopting the Boy Scout motto “be prepared” in its approach to the recovery of heritage resources. Pages dedicated to the topic are popping up all over the web. Here are our picks for five of the best.

AIC Disaster Recovery Resources

The American Institute for Conservation links to recovery of various types of materials and also health-related considerations. Disaster-related articles from back Issues of the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC). Also links to the findings of the Ground Zero/World Trade Center disaster.

Disaster planning for collections

The Society for Historical Archaeology administers this page on disaster response. It is practical in its approach, giving details on useful publications as well as ordering information. It also includes step-by-step instruction (with images, no less) on needed supplies, triage considerations and drying methods.

English: Logo of the National Center for Prese...

NCPTT disaster recovery page

The official disaster recovery site for the National Park Service, this site links to pages with of FEMA and the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. Content can be filtered by need, including damage assessment, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricane recovery, wet recovery. Also contains downloadable PDFs and National Weather Service advisories.

Solinet Preservation Disaster Recovery Page

Easy-to-navigate page of links listed by both disaster and material type. Also includes a handy “advice” section on preparedness and choosing vendors as well as navigating the FEMA and disaster aid process.

National Trust Flood Recovery

An assortment of flood response web pages and pdfs assembled as a direct response to the summer floods in the Midwest. Includes a breakdown of the affected area by state along with links to affected cultural institutions.

We know there have to be additional resources out there. If you know of others, please share them.

Disaster recovery playlist from YouTube

Featured thumbnail photo by Alice Ann Krishnan

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8/08 NPS Heritage News Rundown

The August 08 edition of the National Park Service’s Heritage News reports the following:

The National Geographic Society is working with federal agencies to adopt the principles for promoting tourism that helps sustain and enhance visited places. A July 8 MOU created the “Geotourism Working Group.”

The World Heritage Committee adds 19 cultural sites and 8 natural sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List during its recent meeting.

U.S. State Department’s eJournalUSA focuses on “National Parks, National Legacy.” Features interviews with Mary Bomar, NPS director, and legendary filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan who are working on a documentary about U.S. National Parks to be broadcast in fall 2009.

The Lebanese Ministry of Culture is sponsoring an international architecture competition for the House of Arts and Culture of Lebanon in Beirut. The project is funded by a $20 million donation from the Sultanate of Oman.

“American Place: The Historic American Buildings Survey at 75 Years” is a public exhibit about the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey Runs through Nov. 14 at the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C.

A 1939 auto repair shop in Missoula, Mont., recently underwent a $866,474 rehabilitation. The rehab was supported by National Park Service Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

The National Park System Advisory Board met July 21-22 to recommend that the Secretary of the Interior designate the 19 sites as National Historic Landmarks.

In June, 69 listings were added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, including 2,964 buildings, 27 sites, 28 structures, and 7 objects.

Wooden catboat “Gypsy” was among the new listings for the National Register of Historic Places in June.

The NAGPRA Review Committee will meet in San Diego Oct. 11-12 to consider disputes and requests for recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior for disposition of culturally unidentifiable, Native American, human remains.

Lisa Ackerman is the first recipient of the Ann Webster Smith Award for International Heritage Achievement. The US/ICOMOS award honors those who exemplify the role of the U.S. as a trusted partner for cultural heritage efforts in all parts of the world.

The Arizona State Museum and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners have been selected to receive the 2008 Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections from Heritage Preservation and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Nominations for next year’s award are now being accepted.

Preservation Today Netcast: Iowa Floods, Blogging Museums, Safety on the Net

August 2008 Contents include:

Archeologists confirmed that Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia is the site of President George Washington’s boyhood home. The site was found after a seven year search and more than 500,000 artifacts from 11 time periods have been found.
National Geographic

Fox News

New York Times

RMJM Hiller has been hired to complete an independent evaluation of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. The report should play a major role in decisions concerning the construction of new hospitals in the area. Charity Hospital is the most prominent example of art deco architecture in in New Orleans and it has a history that goes back more than 250 years.

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana

Building Design and Construction

Next American City Magazine

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation has acquired 189 acres of one of the nation’s most endangered battlefields. The acquisition will protect Cedar Creek Battlefield for the controversial expansion of a nearby limestone quarry.

Shenandoah Stories

Washington Times

National Park Service Digest

Record-breaking floods across the Midwest have destroyed or damaged numerous cultural institutions, public buildings, rural landscapes and historic districts. Brucemore, a site owned by the National Trust, has become a hub for recovery efforts. Several organizations are heading up recovery efforts including Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area and The American Institute of Conservation.

Iowa Floods

The National Trust Weblog

The 9th annual VAST International Symposium on virtual reality, archeology and cultural heritage will take place in Portugal this December. The symposium will present a dialogue on the present and future of archeology in the 21st century.

VAST Symposium

Only 1,800 gingerbread houses remain in Russia as the country struggles to balance preservation with the demands of development. In Tomsk, Russia, $3 million from the city treasury is being used to restore these buildings.

International Herald Tribune

The New York Times

More than $165,000 have been awarded to fund research projects that use technology to advance preservation. Four projects were funded as part of a grants program administered by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. Those receiving funding include The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Tulane University.

David Morgan, Chief of Archeology and Collections at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, gives information on what the center looks for in a grant proposal and how to apply.

Morgan also speaks about the upcoming “Prospection in Depth” workshop in San Francisco.

Prospection in Depth Archaeology Workshop

Museum 2.0 is a blog by Nina Simon on heritage issues. The site explores how museums can apply social media principles to become more engaging, community-based and vital to society.

Museum 2.0

Jonathon Bailey, creator of Plagiarism Today, one of the web’s top resources for content and privacy issues, talks about how to protect your content online. Bailey discusses the importance of monitoring your content and how to license your work under Creative Commons.

Jonathan Bailey on the web:

Site: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/plagiarismtoday

Podcast: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/

Email: jonathan@plagiarismtoday.com

Online content and Identity protection resources



http://www.bitscan.com and http://www.copyalerts.com






Cast and Crew:
Jeffery K. Guin, executive producer

Brittany Byrd, producer

David Antilley, director

Adam Caldwell, assistant director

Farrah Reyna, anchor

Lane Luckie, anchor

Partners in this production:

City of Natchitoches, La.

Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area

National Center for Preservation Technology & Training

Northwestern State University of Louisiana