Tag Archives: conservation

Dale Kronkright on Shaping Georgia O’Keeffe’s Digital Image

Dale Kronkright

Can virtual connections and digital media yield tangible benefits for heritage resources? Dale Kronkright says “yes.” And, that’s based on his experience as head of conservation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe New Mexico. In this interview, he’ll talk about the Georgia O’Keeffe Imaging Project. The project field-tested three technologies in “Computational Imaging” and brought its audiences along for the ride with real-time updates on the social web. Their approach was profoundly effective, without being too complex from the production standpoint. There’s a takeaway here for most any heritage project.

If you’d like to learn more about the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Imaging Project, or Dale, visit:

GOK Conservation: http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/conservation.html

Project blog: http://okeeffeimagingproject.wordpress.com/

Dale on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GOKConservator

Other links mentioned in this episode:

“Digital Heritage Planning” A strategy kit with use cases and best practices for demystifying goals, objectives and tactics:
http://voicesofthepast.org/2010/03/31/social-media-planning-for-heritage-organizations-differentiating-goals-objectives-tactics/
Expanded: http://voicesofthepast.org/2014/02/02/planning/

Pinterest.com/heritagevoices

Social Networking for Conservators

socialnetworkingbannerconservators

Many in the heritage industry are embracing social media as a means of connecting to the public, and one another, there are a small, but growing, number of conservators who have joined in this communication explosion. Sadly the conservation profession as a whole remains somewhat wary of embracing social media. Though not to be downhearted there are many individuals, and small groups, who have a clear grasp of the fundamental nature of web 2.0 and have been flying the flag for conservation, developing what can legitimately be called a ‘conservation cyberspace’, it is a few of those projects that I shall highlight here.

Dan’s favorite approaches to social media by conservators

Facebook

It appears that the most widely used social media platform by conservators is facebook. This site boasts a huge range of groups that are associated with conservation issues; whether they are extensions of professional organizations such as International Institute for Conservation (IIC), or, non-aligned groups such as the highly successful Art Conservation Advocates, these types of groups seem to specialize in posting lots of interesting news stories, which in many ways is a continuation of the older broadcast method of ‘outreach’, in addition Art Conservation Advocates posts information such as; job postings, internship postings, conference calls, and such like. I particularly appreciate the idea behind this group as advocacy is something that social media can be a useful tool for. I’m not normally one for selling things and advertising, however, I’ll make an exception for one of my favourite crafty conservation-themed groups on facebook, the Inherent Vice Squad, who also have a website and blog, they use social media to help market their unique and popular products to the conservation community. These products are all a lot of fun, and I doubt many conservators would have ever heard of them had it not been for social media.

Twitter and Paper.li

The number of conservators, and conservation labs, on twitter continues to increase at a slow but steady pace. I’ve found it a useful means of quickly seeking answers, and for sharing interesting stories. However, I do find that keeping up with an ever increasing number of people is too time consuming for my busy schedule. Therefore, I have been quite intrigued by what I think is one of the most interesting things to come out of twitter recently; paper.li. This site allows you to set up a daily newspaper-like feed of either yours, or, a list of tweets that you follow. I may be wrong, but I believe amongst conservators Richard McCoy (Associate Conservator at the IMA) was the first to start up such a daily newspaper, his is entitled Art Conservation Daily. This is a great new way to interact with tweets.

Wiki’s

I think wiki’s might be the most significant development in social media for the professional conservation field. In many ways the wiki as a website has become synonymous with its most famous exponent – the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. To which there are a growing number of entries that are concerned with conservation, and I would continue to encourage conservators to use and add to this online encyclopedia. Wikipedia also hosts numerous projects to develop content, including Wikipedia Saves Public Art, which is
probably the first explicitly conservation themed project, providing a workable model for documenting works of art in the public sphere.

However, Wikipedia is not the only use of Wiki’s within the conservation field. Wiki’s have been shown to be a useful method of sharing information pertaining to testing specific products, with the Pemulen TR2 Wiki being an excellent example. This wiki was developed by Nancie Ravenel who also developed the Social Media 4 Collections Care Wiki, based on her presentation: “Technology and Social Media for Collections Care”, for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections forum, June 17, 2009, Buffalo, NY. This is a great wiki that provides an ongoing bibliography concerning social media within the conservation, collections care field.

Blogs:

As a blogger I don’t really want to get into ranking blogs, however, there is one blog worth a special mention for the sheer number of fantastic free online resources that the blog has located and made available in one location for the profession, and that is: Art Conservation Research.

Podcasts:

I’m very excited by Minding the Museum, which is a new museum conservation podcast website. It has only had one issue out so far, but it is a site I’ll be keeping an eye on to see how it develops. The website itself doesn’t strictly speaking fall within the realm of social media, in that it is distinctly lacking in interactivity, however, it is likely that podcasts will be shared, posted, forwarded, and discussed on any number of other
platforms.

What’s Missing?

The one major thing that is missing is a website that uses Web 2.0 for something “more” in much the way Voices of the Past does for the wider Heritage field. At the moment I don’t feel there is enough interest amongst conservators to develop such a site, and there certainly isn’t institutional support for such a project. Yet I can’t help thinking it won’t be long before we see something of it’s kind.

So, those were some of my favorite social media sites that represent conservation cyberspace, what do you think of them, and what are your favorites?

Photo teaser elements courtesy of Dan Cull and luc legay on Flickr

Results of our survey on how heritage professionals use the web

At the end of 2009, we opened up a survey about social media usage among professionals in the heritage fields. The purpose of this is to see where folks are in social media, learn how to reach them and see where they want to go.

Basic Demographics

326 people responded from all over the globe. Most participants came from the United States (50.1 percent) and Europe (40 percent). The ages averaged evenly between 20-65 years of age.

Location:

Location Demographics

Age:

38.6%            22-35

34.6%            36-50

20.8%           51-65

3%                  18-21

2.4%              over 60

<1%               No response

Heritage-related occupation:

39.2%          Archeologist

7%                 Conservator

5.2%             Heritage Communicator

5.2%             Enthusiast

4.6%             Educator

2.4%             Landscape Architect

2.4%             Architect

1.5%             Caretaker

<1%              Scientist

<1%              Engineer

30.3%          Other

<1%              No response

Breakdown by Profession

Archeologist

The majority of the archeologists who participated lived in Europe and were in the 22-35 year-old age bracket. They mainly used the Internet for email and research, with about half of them using the Internet for networking and casual browsing. Most of the participants considered themselves “joiners” in social media, with about 20 percent of them creating content. They saw social media helping increase awareness of important issues and topics and to help with networking. They were least interested in the project journaling aspect of social media. Among what they would like to learn in regard to social media, they were most interested in optimizing heritage content for the web and tracking multiple sources of online content.

Location:

79.6%         Europe

3.9%           US Southwest

3.9%           US Northwest

3.1%           North America (Not in the US)

2.3%           US Southeast

2.3%           US Northeast

2.3%           US Midwest

1.5%           Australia

<1%            Africa

Age:

53.9%         22-35

27.3%         36-50

12.5%         51-65

5.4%           18-21

<1%             over 65

Primary Internet Use:

89%             Email

72.6%          Research

54.6%          Networking

45.3%          Casual Browsing

38.2%          News

7%                Web Development

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

40.6%          Joiner

26.5%          Spectator

19.5%          Creator

7%                Collector

2.3%            Critic

2.3%            Inactive

1.5%            No Response

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

32.8%         Joiners

28.1%         Spectators

7%               Critics

5.4%           Creators

5.4%           Collectors

3.1%           Inactive

16.4%         Unsure

1.5%           No Response

Access heritage-related news:

51.5%       Online News Feed

11.7%       Google

8.5%        Newspaper

4.6%        Television

4.6%        RSS Feed

16.4%      Other

2.3%        No Response

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

3.3            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.4            Networking

3.8            Advance Research

4.4            Career Opportunities

4.6            Promote Organization

4.9            Easy Web Publishing

5.6            Inexpensive or Free Tools

6.0            Project Journaling

Beneficial Social Media Training

The most prominent training was learning how to optimize heritage content for the web, followed by managing and tracking multiple sources for online content. Archeologists were least interested in learning how to use social media or manage their online reputation.
The most prominent training was learning how to optimize heritage content for the web, followed by managing and tracking multiple sources for online content. Archeologists were least interested in learning how to use social media or manage their online reputation.

Architect

The majority of architects who participated were from the northwest United States and were in the 51-65 age bracket. They mainly used the Internet for email and to read the news. Many of the architects participate with social media as spectators, but 25 percent create content and join the conversation. They see social media as a way to advance research and increase awareness of important issues/topics. They see the most beneficial social media training to be optimizing heritage content for the web.

Location:

37.5%       US Northwest

25%           US Midwest

12.5%        US Southeast

12.5%        US Northeast

12.5%        North America (Not in the US)

Age:

50%             51-65

25%             36-50

12.5%          18-21

12.5%          22-35

Primary Internet Use:

87.5%       Email

75%           News

62.5%       Casual Browsing

62.5%       Networking

62.5%       Research

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

37.5%      Spectator

25%          Creator

25%          Joiner

12.5%       Inactive

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

37.5%       Joiners

25%           Critics

12.5%        Spectators

25%           Unsure

Access Heritage-Related News:

37.5%           Online News

12.5%           Television

375%            Other

12.5%           No Response

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.6            Advance Research

3.0            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.4            Networking

3.7            Promote Organization

5.0            Career Opportunities

5.6            Easy Publishing to the Web

6.0            Project Journaling

6.7            Inexpensive or Free Tools

Beneficial Social Media Training

75%                How to Optimize Heritage Content for the Web

37.5%            Producing Heritage Videos for Online Sharing

37.5%            Introduction to Social Media

37.5%            How to Create a Community Around Your Content

37.5%            Best Practices in Online Photo Sharing

12.5%            Managing and Tracking Multiple Sources of Online Content

Conservator

The majority of the conservators came from the northeast United States and were in the 36-50 age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for email, but more than half of the participants research on the Internet. More than half of the conservators consider themselves to be a creator of social media content. The conservators think social media is best used to help them increase the awareness of important issues/topics and to aid with networking. They are most interested in training that helps them optimize heritage content for the web, and use open access and Creative Commons to advance research.

Location:

21.7%            US Northeast

17.3%            US Southwest

13%                Australia

8.6%              US Northwest

8.6%              US Midwest

8.6%              North America (Not in the US)

8.6%              Europe

8.6%              Asia

4.3%              US Southeast

Age:

39.1%            36-50

34.7%           22.35

26%               51-65

Primary Internet Use:

78.2%           Email

56.5%           Research

39.1%           News

39.1%           Networking

30.4%          Casual Browsing

8.6%            Web Development

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

52.1%           Creator

13%               Joiner

8.6%             Spectator

4.3%             Collector

13%               Inactive

8.6%             No Response

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

39.1%          Spectators

17.3%          Creators

13%              Joiners

4.3%            Collectors

8.6%            Inactive

8.6%            Unsure

8.6%            No Response

Access Heritage-Related News:

30.4%          RSS Feed

26%              Online News Site

13%              Google

4.3%            Television

17.3%          Other

8.6%            No Response

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.8            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.2            Networking

3.5            Advance Research

4.1            Promote Organization

4.3            Easy Publishing to the Web

5.7            Career Opportunities

5.9            Inexpensive or Free Tools

6.5            Project Journaling

Beneficial Social Media Training:

39.1%          How to Use Open Access and Creative Commons to Advance Research

39.1%          How to Optimize Heritage Content for the Web

34.7%          Best Practices in Online Photo Sharing

30.4%         Producing Heritage Videos for Online Sharing

30.4%         How to Create a Community Around Your Content

26%             Managing and Tracking Multiple Sources of Online Content

13%             Introduction to Social Media

13%             Blogging Research Projects

Enthusiast

The majority of enthusiasts who participated live in the northwest United States and are in the 36-50 age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for email, and more than half of them use it to access the news. They consider themselves to  be joiners in social media, but about 30 percent of the enthusiasts are content creators. They find social media to be best adventitious for networking, increasing awareness and advancing research. The enthusiasts are most interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web.

Location:

23.5%         US Northwest

17.6%         US Southeast

11.7%          US Southwest

11.7%          US Northeast

11.7%          North America (Not in the US)

11.7%          Europe

5.8%           South America

5.8%           Australia

Age:

29.4%          36-50

23.5%          over 65

23.5%          22-35

17.6%          51-65

5.8%            18-21

Primary Internet Use:

82.3%          Email

58.8%          News

47%              Research

47%              Networking

47%              Casual Browsing

11.7%           Web Development

Approximate Social Media Level Participation:

35.2%          Joiner

29.4%          Creator

17.6%          Spectator

11.7%          Collector

5.8%           Inactive

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Level Participation:

35.2%          Joiners

23.5%          Spectators

5.8%            Creators

5.8%            Critics

5.8%            Inactive

17.6%          Unsure

5.8%            No Response

Access Heritage-Related News:

35.2%           Online News Site

11.7%            Newspaper

23.5%           RSS Feed

29.4%           Other

How Social Media Can Achieve Professional Goals:

3.2            Networking

3.5            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.6            Advance Research

4.0            Promote Organization

4.7            Easy Publishing to the Web

5.1            Inexpensive or Free Tools

5.7            Project Journaling

6.2            Career Opportunities

Beneficial Social Media Training:

The majority of enthusiasts were interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web. They were the least interested in learning about reputation management and producing heritage videos for online sharing.
The majority of enthusiasts were interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web. They were the least interested in learning about reputation management and producing heritage videos for online sharing.

Caretaker

The majority of caretakers are from Europe r the northeast United States and are in th 36-50 age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for email, research and networking. They consider themselves to be joiners or spectators of social media. They consider the most beneficial training to be in learning to manage and track multiple sources of online content.

Location:

40%            Europe

40%            US Northeast

20%            US Southwest

Age:

80%            36-50

20%            22-35

Primary Internet Use:

100%            Email

80%              Research

80%              Networking

60%              News

60%              Casual Browsing

40%              Web Development

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

40%            Joiner

40%            Spectator

20%            Creator

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

40%            Joiner

40%            Spectator

20%            Creator

Access Heritage-Related News:

40%            Online News Site

40%            RSS Feed

20%            Google

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.0            Increase Awareness of Important Issues

3.5            Networking

4.0            Advance Research

4.2            Promote Organization

5.0            Career Opportunities

5.0            Easy Publishing to the Web

5.2            Inexpensive or Free Tools

7.0            Project Journaling

Beneficial Training

40%            Managing and Tracking Multiple Sources of Online Content

20%            How to Create a Community Around Your Content

20%            How to Optimize Heritage Content for the Web

20%            Producing Heritage Videos for Online Sharing

20%            Blogging Research Projects

20%            Best Practices in Online Photo Sharing

Heritage Communicators

The majority of heritage communicators that participated are from the northwest United States and Europe, and about half of them are in the 22-35 year-old age bracket. They primarily use the Internet to access their email, but they also use it for research and networking. More than 30 percent of the heritage communicators consider themselves to be social media creators, and many see themselves as joiners and spectators. They see social media as a way to increase awareness of important issues/topics and a means to promote their organizations. They are most interested in learning how to create a community around their content and learning to optimize heritage content for the web.

Location:

35.2%          US Northwestern State University

35.2%          Europe

11.7%           North America (not in the US)

5.8%            US Southwest

5.8%            US Southeast

5.8%            US Midwest

Age:

41.1%            22-35

35.2%            51-65

23.5%            35-50

Primary Internet Use:

94.1%       Email

64.7%       Research

47%           Networking

35%           News

29.4%        Casual Browsing

17.6%        Web Development

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

35.2%            Creator

29.4%            Joiner

23.5%            Spectator

5.8%              Critic

5.8%              Collector

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

41.1%            Spectators

35.2%           Joiners

11.7%            Inactive

5.8%             Creators

5.8%             Critics

Access Heritage-Related News:

29.4%            Online News Site

23.5%            RSS Feed

17.6%            Google

5.8%              Newspaper

23.5%            Other

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.8            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.1            Promote Organization

3.9            Networking

4.2            Advance Research

4.8            Easy Publishing to the Web

4.9            Inexpensive or free tools

6.1            Career Opportunities

6.3            Project Journaling

Most Beneficial Social Media Training:

Heritage Communicators are most interested in learning to create a community around their content, and they are least interested in learning to blog research projects, introduction to social media and reputation management.
Heritage Communicators are most interested in learning to create a community around their content, and they are least interested in learning to blog research projects, introduction to social media and reputation management.

Landscape Architect

Most of the participating landscape architects came from parts of North America not in the United States and were in the 51-65 year-old age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for research and email, and they consider themselves to be social media joiners. They see social media as a way to network and increase awareness of important issues or topics. They are most interested in learning how to manage and track multiple sources of online content, how to use open access and Creative Commons, and how to create a community around their content.

Location:

50%            North America (Not in the US)

25%            US Northeast

12.5%         US Southwest

12.5%         US Northwest

Age:

75%            51-65

12.5%         22-35

12.5%         36-50

Primary Internet Use:

100%         Research

100%         Email

50%           Networking

37%           Casual Browsing

25%           News

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Joiner

25%            Collector

12.5%         Spectator

12.5%         Critic

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Joiners

25%            Spectators

25%            Unsure

Access Heritage-Related News:

50%               Google

25%               Television

12.5%            Online News Site

12.5%            RSS Feed

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.0            Networking

2.9            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

3.4            Promote Organization

4.2            Advance Research

5.5            Inexpensive or Free Tools

5.6            Easy Publishing to the Web

5.8            Career Opportunities

6.6            Project Journaling

Beneficial Social Media Training

The majority of architects are interested in training to help them optimize their heritage content for the web.
The majority of landscape architects are interested in learning to manage and track multiple sources of online content, how to use open access and Creative Commons, and how to create a community around their content. They are least interested in learning to blog research projects, introduction to social media and reputation management.

Engineer

The engineers who participated were from the northeast and midwest United States and were in the 22-50 age brackets. They use the Internet for email, gather news and research. They primarily consider themselves joiners to social media. They think social media can help advance research and aide with networking. They are interested in learning about optimizing heritage content for the web, reputation management and blogging research projects.

Location:

50%            US Northeast

50%            US Midwest

Age:

50%            22-35

50%            36-50

Primary Internet Use:

50%            Email

50%            News

50%            Research

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Joiner

50%            No Response

Colleagues’ Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Spectators

50%            No Response

Access Heritage-Related News:

50%            Other

50%            No Response

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

1.0            Advance Research

2.0            Networking

3.0            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues/Topics

4.0            Promote Organization

5.0            Career Opportunities

6.0            Inexpensive or Free Tools

7.0            Project Journaling

8.0            Easy Publishing to the Web

Beneficial Social Media Training:

50%            How to Optimize Heritage Content for the Web

50%            Reputation Management

50%            Blogging Research Projects

Scientist

The scientists that participated are from the southeast and northwest United states and are in the 18-21 and the 51-65 age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for email and research. They consider themselves to be joiners to social media. They think social media can help them network and advance research. They are most interested in learning a basic introduction to social media.

Location:

50%            US Southeast

50%            US Northwest

Age:

50%            18-21

50%            51-65

Primary Internet Use:

100%            Email

100%            Research

50%              Casual Browsing

50%              News

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Joiner

50%            Inactive

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

50%            Joiners

50%            Spectators

Access Heritage-Related News:

100%            Online News Site

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

1.0            Networking

2.0            Advance Research

3.0            Increasing Awareness of Important Issues

4.0            Inexpensive or Free Tools

5.0            Project Journaling

6.0            Easy Publishing to the Web

7.0            Promote Organization

8.0            Career Opportunities

Beneficial Social Media Training:

100%            Introduction to Social Media

50%            How to Optimize Heritage Content for the Web

50%            Managing and Tracking Multiple Sources of Online Content

Educator

The educators primarily are from the southeast United States and Europe, and are in the 36-50 age bracket. They primarily use the Internet for email and research. The majority of educators are social media spectators, but about 20 percent join the conversations and 20 percent create the content. They think social media can hep increase awareness of important issues and aide in networking. They are most interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web and learn to blog research projects.

Location:

20%            US Southeast

20%            Europe

13.3%         US Southwest

13.3%         US Northwest

13.3%         US Northeast

6.6%           US Midwest

6.6%           North America (Not in the US)

6.6%           Australia

Age Range:

53.3%            36-50

26.6%            51-65

13.3%            22-35

6.6%              over 65

Primary Internet Use:

93.3%            Email

86.6%            Research

40%               Networking

40%               News

26.6%            Casual Browsing

6.6%              Web development

Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

40%           Spectator

20%           Joiner

20%           Creator

13.3%        Collector

6.6%          Inactive

Colleagues’ Approximate Social Media Participation Level:

40%             Spectators

33.3%          Joiners

13.3%          Inactive

6.6%            Creators

6.6%            Unsure

Access Heritage-Related News:

40%            Online News Site

20%            Google

6.6%           Newspaper

6.6%           RSS Feed

26.6%         Other

How Social Media Can Help Achieve Professional Goals:

2.3            Increase awareness of important issues/topics

2.6            Networking

3.5            Promote Organization

4.5            Advance Research

5.1            Easy publishing to the web

5.2            Career Opportunities

5.5            Inexpensive or free tools

7.3            Project Journaling

Beneficial Social Media Training:

Educators are mostly interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web and how to blog research projects. They are least interested in learning reputation management and a basic introduction to social media.
Educators are mostly interested in learning how to optimize heritage content for the web and how to blog research projects. They are least interested in learning reputation management and a basic introduction to social media.

Video Netcast: Folklorist Dale Jarvis talks about storytelling on the social web

Tease: Coming up in this edition of the Voices of the Past Netcast, we’ll meet Dale Jarvis. Dale is a folklorist and storyteller who is pioneering ways to share his art with new generations using online media. He experiments with traditional storytelling methods using social tools like Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and even Second Life. He’ll talk about the timelessness of storytelling and how you can still communicate the power of place through the web.
Thanks for joining us. I’m Jeff Guin. We’ll have that interview in a moment. First, here are a couple of briefs about the heritage world online.
—————————————————-
An online magazine dedicated to conservation science is welcoming a new feature. E-Conservation is now featuring a regular column by conservator and blogger Daniel Cull. Now, Dan tells us his articles will discuss conservation-related news and controversial issues.
[Cull Soundbite]
According to its publishers, the objective of e-Conservation features news, events, and scientific articles from around the world. The magazine features items about conservation of detached mural paintings in Portugal and wood science for conservation of cultural heritage. In addition to the magazine, the e-Conservation website features internships and job opportunities, and an online forum.
Now, you can learn more about Dan and his personal conservation blog by reading our interview with him at the Voices of the Past website as well.
—————————————————-
Trees are among the least-understood historic features, often removed because of safety fears or to make way for new construction.
A 170-year-old tree is still standing thanks to the power of the internet. The osage-orange tree is the lone survivor of a hedgerow planted in KeeWanEEE, Illinois circa 1840. The concept was promoted by Illinois College professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner and became the shelterbelt system saving America’s soils from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Because of its significance, Illinois arborist Guy Sternberg mobilized his online contacts to preserve the tree.
Sternberg learned of the tree’s fate just days before its scheduled removal. Within a 48-hour period, the city received dozens of e-mails from arborists, forestry professors, and other professionals contributing their expert opinions and support. Others from across the country offered the city donations and technical assistance to help preserve the tree.
The campaign branched out into other forms of electronic communication as well, including blogs and podcasts. In the end, the efforts paid off and the tree was saved. If you would like to contribute to the tree’s continuing preservation, you can donate via the PayPal link at its Facebook fan page.
——————————————————
Intro: In a world that communicates 140 characters at a time, Dale Jarvis has found a way to keep the storytelling tradition alive. In fact, he’s broadening the world of storytelling through creative uses of web-based tools.
Dale is the Intangible Cultural Heritage development officer for Newfoundland, Canada. And when he’s not sharing ghost stories and legends with community groups, he might be found in Secondlife sharing stories around a virtual campfire. Or collaborating with others to tell stories on Twitter.
I spoke to Dale Jarvis recently, and here’s what he had to say about how he captures the essence of the oral tradition while adapting it to new media.
Now, Dale just published his first book “Ghostly Ballerinas.” He was also involved in organizing the Place, Narrative and New Media conference, a half-day symposium on how new technologies are being incorporated into storytelling. We have links to Dale’s blog at our shownotes site. While you’re there, check out our extended audio podcast with Dale.
That’s it for this edition of the Voices of the Past netcast. Until next time, we’ll see you online.
———————————————————
http://www.e-conservationline.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/
http://web.archive.org/web/20130301234209/http://ncptt.nps.gov/speedy-e-mails-save-a-historic-tree-in-illinois/

Transcript Intro: Coming up in this edition of the Voices of the Past Netcast, we’ll meet Dale Jarvis. Dale is a folklorist and storyteller who is pioneering ways to share his art with new generations using online media. He experiments with traditional storytelling methods using social tools like Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and even Second Life. He’ll talk about the timelessness of storytelling and how you can still communicate the power of place through the web.

Thanks for joining us. I’m Jeff Guin. We’ll have that interview in a moment. First, here are a couple of briefs about the heritage world online.

E-Conservation Magazine

An online magazine dedicated to conservation science is welcoming a new feature. E-Conservation is now featuring a regular column by conservator and blogger Daniel Cull. Dan tells us his articles will discuss conservation-related news and controversial issues.

[Dan Cull Soundbite]

E-conservation is an open-access magazine produced by and for the international conservation community. Issue 12 features the first edition of my regular column as a permanent collaborator. For our previous collaborations, we developed a good working relationship and I was delighted to accept this position. The column will cover topical, controversial or otherwise interesting topics in the field of conservation. My hope is that it will foster dialog that will in turn feed back into the magazine.

[Dan Cull Soundbite Ends]

According to its publishers, the objective of e-Conservation features news, events, and scientific articles from around the world. The magazine features items about conservation of detached mural paintings in Portugal and wood science for conservation of cultural heritage. In addition to the magazine, the e-Conservation website features internships and job opportunities, and an online forum.

You can learn more about Dan and his personal conservation blog by reading our interview with him at the Voices of the Past website as well.

E-mail Saves a Tree

Trees are among the least-understood historic features, often removed because of safety fears or to make way for new construction.

A 170-year-old tree is still standing thanks to the power of the internet. The osage-orange tree is the lone survivor of a hedgerow planted in Kewanee, Illinois circa 1840. The concept was promoted by Illinois College professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner and became the shelterbelt system saving America’s soils from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Because of its significance, Illinois arborist Guy Sternberg mobilized his online contacts to preserve the tree.

Sternberg learned of the tree’s fate just days before its scheduled removal. Within a 48-hour period, the city received dozens of e-mails from arborists, forestry professors, and other professionals contributing their expert opinions and support. Others from across the country offered the city donations and technical assistance to help preserve the tree.

The campaign branched out into other forms of electronic communication as well, including blogs and podcasts. In the end, the efforts paid off and the tree was saved. If you would like to contribute to the tree’s continuing preservation, you can donate via its Facebook fan page.

Dale Jarvis, Folklorist/Storyteller

In a world that communicates 140 characters at a time, Dale Jarvis has found a way to keep the storytelling tradition alive. In fact, he’s broadening the world of storytelling through creative uses of web-based tools.

Dale is the Intangible Cultural Heritage development officer for Newfoundland, Canada. And when he’s not sharing ghost stories and legends with community groups, he might be found in Secondlife sharing stories around a virtual campfire. Or collaborating with others to tell stories on Twitter.

Here’s what Dale had to say about how he captures the essence of the oral tradition while adapting it to new media.

[Interview]

Dale Jarvis: As a storyteller, one thing that people ask me all the time is is storytelling dying. You know, is this a dying art? And I really believe that things are always in a constant state of evolution. I think traditions are always changing, and I think that the rise of things like YouTube indicate that people are really passionate about storytelling. They really want to share their own personal stories.

So, it is sort of a really great democratization of storytelling in a way. Maybe people don’t sit around and tell the long form fairy tales in quite the same way that they used to, but people are incredibly interested in sharing their own personal stories and creating stories and sharing them.

So I am fascinated by sites like YouTube because I think it does indicate that their is this human desire to share stories. That storytelling is something that is something that is really important to us as a species. Everyone wants to share their story in some way.

I think technologies, like cell phones, are something that we are going to see more and more get used for some of this stuff, especially like the iPhone. Especially with the GPS capabilities, and I mentioned before that I am real interested in place-based narratives, place-based storytelling. I think that we are going to see more and more of this type of stuff.

One of the projects I am involved with right now is a project that was started in Toronto called Murmur. The murmur project started off as an art project in downtown Toronto, where people collected local stories told by local people, they recorded those stories, they put them all online.

So there is a map of the neighborhood and you can go to the site and click on the little dot and listen to a person tell the story about that particular location. But then if you actually go to the street and walk down the street, there is a little sign on the street with a phone number and a six-digit code, so you can take your cell phone and dial the number, punch in the six-digit code and listen to the person tell their story on that spot.

And this a project that started in Toronto, it’s moved across Canada. There are now projects in South Pablo and Brazil, there’s projects in Scotland and Ireland, and we are starting up a similar project here in Newfoundland.

I think that that has great potential. That these sort of cell phone based stories and sort of using new technologies to get local stories and local traditions and local knowledge out to a wider public are going to be very, very popular.

I know places like the Appellation Trail and national historic sites in the United Kingdom are starting to experiment with GPS based narrative-type devices, so you can have your iPhone and walk around the site and listen to different types of stories. And I think we are going to see a lot more of that type of stuff happening more in the very, very near future.

Jeff Guin: Storytelling is evolving. There are different ways of telling a story now, and I actually noticed that one of the things you are involved with is using Twitter to tell a story. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Dale Jarvis: Yes, Twitter is one of these things that you have to sort of boil down to something to a very little short sort of thing.

So storytellers are sort of used to waxing poetic and telling these long stories. I can tell stories as a storyteller, you know, sort of those long fairy tales that take 30 minutes 45 minutes to tell, and I know storytellers who can tell one story that can last three hours.

So Twitter sort of forces you to rethink how you approach a story. I have told stories on Twitter. As part of a storytelling festival I was involved with, I actually told a long-form story just 100 characters at a time in over the course of a week.

So people could sort of follow my tweets and then read the whole story as I posted it. But I think that there is also the potential to use Twitter as well to share some tiny little stories.

There are some great little websites. There is one called Twistory, which is sort of one of these sites that collects all the things that people are putting as updates on Twitter and post them under different categories. So you can find everything someone hates or loves at a certain moment or what they believe in at a certain moment. And they are fascinating.

Dale Jarvis

It is maybe not sort of narrative storytelling in the way that we think of it, but it is sort of a remarkable insight on into current moods and how people are perceiving their own little personal worlds.

[Interview Ends]

Now, Dale just published his first book about Ghostly Ballerinas. He was also involved in organizing the Place, Narrative and New Media conference, a half-day symposium on how new technologies are being incorporated into storytelling. We have links to Dale’s blog at our shownotes site. While you’re there, check out our extended audio podcast with Dale.

That’s it for this edition of the Voices of the Past netcast. Until next time, we’ll see you online.

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.

Two days with a power blogger: learning the art of expression, connection and influence

Lorelle VanFossen

By Bethany Frank


There are lessons that hit you like a ton of bricks, and then there are lessons that need time to simmer like homemade jambalaya. By allowing it to sit, the flavors are able to absorb and strengthen.



Last week, power blogger Lorelle VanFossen came to the National Park Service office where I intern and taught a workshop on the art of blogging and its uses in the heritage field. Lorelle stood in front of us and asked, “what do you say when someone says they have a blog?” Without missing a beat, one participant responded, “ask if there is a cure.”


That sudden burst of laughter broke the ice as we all discussed our thoughts on how blogging could potentially help the organization. Some responded with, “I don’t know; I am here to learn the answer” or “Because my boss told me to.”


But then we started discussing how blogging could help us reach a wider audience.


If you want to have a discussion on true Cajun cooking, you don’t go to Massachusetts or Texas. You go “down south” to southern Louisiana. If you want to converse with a younger audience and share your heritage values, you go online. That is where the people are. That is why we learned with Lorelle for a day and a half.


We still need and want to converse with folks already in preservation, but right now that is an older audience. What happens in another decade or so when the tools that the audience uses to communicate are obsolete?


Preservation is as much about preserving the memories of today as those of yesterday.That is what we learned to do. Instead of just jumping into the “work” aspect of blogging, we received the opportunity to begin our own blogs. Everyone was asked to find something he/she was passionate about. Something worth blogging.


We then began the “creation” part of our blogs.


We worked on finding a focus and creating a goal. Lorelle challenged us all to think about whom we were talking to. Who did we want to read our blog? And why were we writing? That was my favorite part. I enjoyed looking around the room and seeing the participants’ eyes twinkle with passion as they created their lists of tags and categories as they rediscovered their passions.


It was apparent during the outlining stage that I was in a room of established professionals. They had some of the most beautiful lists I had ever seen. But what was more fascinating were the subjects they chose to discuss.


Some found the new Apple technologies fascinating while other looked toward the dead and wanted to discuss graveyards and tombstones. One looked beyond the grave and deeper in the past to letters from a family who lived decades ago.


“If you want to get someone’s attention, you need to show them something they’ve never seen before or show them something in a way they’ve never seen before,” Lorelle said.


Lorelle reminded us that there are a hundred and ten different ways to show our passions. Some might be pioneering new land with an innovative idea. But most will broach subjects that have been discussed before, and it is our job to ensure that we cover them in a new way.


Lorelle’s lessons lingered on throughout the workshop. She provided opportunities for everyone to practice various blogging techniques and tools including video and podcasts.


She left mark on everyone by the time the workshop had concluded.


We all reflected about what we learned throughout the workshop. Our thoughts truly reflected the wide array of personalities in the group. Some found the power in block quotes and the value in writing out the plethora of thoughts and ideas in a blog format. Some were intrigued by the possibilities available with speed blogging and one even found a friend in WordPress.tv (a site with videos on how to use various WordPress applications).


The group, as a whole, found its voice. It found the ability to ensure it is heard in today’s hectic world.

Feature photo by jpozadzides on Flickr

Heritage DIY: How to clean cemetery monuments

By Jason Church

Cemetery care and maintenance is undergoing a surge in popularity that hasn’t been seen since the Victorian era. It’s little wonder. Cemetery gravemarkers are at once memorials to those we’ve loved and pieces of art. Caring for them provides a connection to a world before the internet absorbed all of our attention.

Cleaning these monuments properly is the best thing one can do to ensure that they will last for generations to come. And it’s easily done too!

Cleaning stones should always be done by the gentlest means possible. For chemical cleaning, acceptable products are detergents, solvents, surfactants, biocides, and intermittent water misting.  When choosing a cleaner it should be gentle, non-ionic, and have a neutral pH of 7 or one close to the pH of the stone. For example, the pH for marble is around pH10, thus the cleaner may be a pH of 9-10. Never use bleach or salt laden cleaners nor any strong acids or bases.

Glen Whitener showing  Elizabeth Dickey and Courtney Fint cleaning

Soft bristle brushes are required when cleaning stones. They can have natural or synthetic bristles. Vegetable brushes or soft grooming brushes for large   animals are a few that can be found in chain or farm supply stores. All rough or metal edges must be covered with tape to reduce the chance of scratching the stone. Do not use any harsh mechanical devices such as sand blasting, high-pressure power washers, or power tools such as sanders or drills equipped with a wire brush.

After you have chosen your cleaner, make small test strips to try out the cleaner and make sure we’re not going to damage the stone. Select your preferred cleaner. To make the task easier, it is a good idea to bring it in spray bottles or small containers.

Soak the stone liberally with water before applying the cleaner. Stone is a very porous material and will absorb the cleaner. By soaking it beforehand, the cleaner will stay on the surface of the stone and minimize possible unwanted effects of the cleaner. Spray the cleaner on a manageable area and work from the bottom up in small, circular motions. This will allow the cleaner to get into all the crevices. Working from the bottom up minimizes streaking on the stone surface. If streaking occurs, it would be a good idea to contact a professional.

GMCA conference 088

One scrubbing over the area might not be enough and it may take more repetitions, but remember not to scrub so hard that you damage the surface. You may also want to use different brush sizes for different areas. Keep the stone wet while cleaning. Remember to rinse with clean water after cleaning each area and to thoroughly rinse the stone at the end to make sure that no cleaner is left behind.

Cleaning cemetery monuments doesn’t take a lot of time, but the benefits could last for decades. It’s a great family activity to undertake on a nice day this spring. Pack a picnic lunch, some cleaning supplies and share stories of your ancestors with the next generation.

Related links:

NCPTT Flickr Stream

NCPTT YouTube Channel

Jason Church on Linkedin

D2 Eco-Friendly Cleaner

Prosoco Biowash Cleaner

Judge urges Nov. 7 resolution in Gettysburg Cyclorama dispute

According to the Gettysburg Times, Judge Alan Kay has told the Recent Past Preservation Network and National Park Service officials to discuss a possible relocation agreement for the old Gettysburg Clyclorama. The park plans to demolish the building in mid-December.

Attorneys for Recent Past Preservation will seek an injunction if an agreement is not reached with the Park Service on relocating the building. The group maintains the significance of the building based on its status as a rare East Coast project by Richard Neutra. Neutra is considered one of modernism‘s most important architects.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama reopened on Sept. 26, 2008 at the new visitor center, which includes a 24,000 square foot Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War. After an introductory film, visitors proceed into a room containing the cyclorama, which surrounds the viewers and puts them in the middle of the battle.

The panorama oil painting by Paul Dominique Phillippoteaux depicts Pickett’s Charge, at which the Union army stood against Lee’s Confederate troops in 1863. The painting was first shown in Boston in 1884 until it was moved it Gettysburg from 1910-13. After this initial movement, it was overpainted to hide the flaws or breaks. More overpaint repairs were made in the 1940’s and 1959-62.

The most recent restoration efforts by Olin Conservation Inc. of Great Falls, Virginia, and Perry Huston & Associates, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas began in 2003 by removing dirt from the canvas and consolidating to secure loose or flaking paint. Olin and Huston have removed layers of repair paint from previous projects which had altered the original scene. The goal was to restore the painting as closely as possible to it’s original state, as it was when Phillippoteaux painted it.

Blogger Leslie Johnston recently discussed her visit to the newly restored Cyclorama, describing the way that the three-dimensional diorama at the base of the cyclorama “leads seamlessly into the painting.” Johnston praises the sound and light show which recreates Pickett’s Charge, putting the visitor in the middle of the battle. Of the Cyclorama, she writes, “It’s still an amazing illusion and it takes your breath away.”

Photo Slideshow

View the Clyclorama Photo Slideshow by miss_leslie on Flickr

Additional Links 

Two offered to take old Cyclorama building

Judge hears arguments to save Cyclorama

1884 Gettysburg painting restored, back on display

ALL FIRED UP

Heritage resources define community, even in their loss

It’s in times of hardship that a community’s character is revealed. The destruction of the Kate Chopin House by fire this past Wednesday was a harsh test of character for the heritage community in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana–where I was born, and live still.

The Kate Chopin House was a Creole-style structure in Cloutierville that was named for the groundbreaking feminist author who lived there during the 1880s. The house was important enough to have been named a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior in 1993.

Just days ago, the house was a testament to what small-town heritage organizations could do. Without the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, the house would have been gone decades ago. Local memory had faded so that not many folks remember the extent to which the house had deterioriated before APHN became steward of the property in 1979. The organization invested in several restoration projects, including the installation of central air and heat in 1999.

Indeed, countless people have invested their time and hearts into the restoration of this structure. So much had been done. But the real tragedy lies in how much more could–and would–have been done to make the Kate Chopin house a preservation showcase for the country. There was much to love about it–the architecture, the history, the literary tradition.

Witnessing the house’s utter destruction–not to mention the loss of the entire contents of the Bayou Folk Museum–was a hard pill to swallow. So many locals had donated family heirlooms to the museum that it literally defined the community.

And it’s still defining us even in its loss. By Wednesday evening, representatives from most of the heritage groups in the parish had been to the site and were finding ways to help. Early Thursday morning, students from the Heritage Resources programs at NSU were moving surviving contents to a safe location. The National Park Service offices provided funds and manpower as well. Even Stine Hardware donated many needed supplies to assist the response effort.

And thank heavens for forethought! For folks like Dusty Fuqua who led a Cane River National Heritage Area grant to document the museum’s major contents through his Cultural Lore organization. It was a laborious effort that was only recently completed, and an earnest example of why folks in the heritage community do what they do.

Where do we go from here? With so little left, folks assisting with the recovery effort are taking special care of every item that is pulled from the rubble with some semblance of its original character intact. It’s a process of expanding our collective knowledge about proper conservation response.

And through this process we recognize that even through the smoke of our biggest cultural loss in recent memory, we have more resources, better knowledge and stronger determination to do the right thing. There’s a measure of comfort in that realization.

NY Times: Conservation of Reinhardt painting is "hit and miss"

Ad Reinhardt Black Paintings
Tourists view an Ad Reinhardt Black Painting. Photo by "ListenMissy!" on Flickr

The New York Times reports about the dilemmas faced by Guggenheim conservators trying to restore one of Ad Reinhardt’s “Black” paintings. Using x-ray and laser techniques, the conservators were tasked with removing acrylic paint that had been used in the past to cover damage to the fragile oil painting.

The Guggenheim is featuring the painting, and telling the story about its conservation in an exhibit titled “Imageless: The Scientific Study and Experimental Treatment of an Ad Reinhardt Black Painting,” which runs through Sept. 14.

You can also read an interview with conservator Carol Stringari by heading over to the ArtInfo site. Stringari  worked on the Reinhardt “cadaver” for six years. The interview includes photos of Stringari at work and the technology she used to perform the conservation work

This YouTube video includes one of the Black Reinhardt paintings at the Guggenheim.