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Metals Working Group

Triennial Programme 2014-2017


Working Group Activities and Projects 2014–2017:

Strengthening the Metals Working Group

  •  Expand the diversity of the Metals Working Group by actively reaching out to colleagues in countries and regions of the world currently less represented. These regions include the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin and South America. Connect with conservation and research groups in these counties. The 9th ICOM-CC Metals Working Group Interim Meeting will be held in 2016 in New Delhi, India, the first time ever in South Asia.
  • Explore the possibility of establishing a mentorship programme for emerging conservation professionals and members in less developed parts of the world.
  • Encourage long-standing Metals Working Group participants to formally join the group as voting members!
  • Clarify the role of the Metals Working Group National Contacts.


Encourage web-based communication and collaboration. Continue with successful social media strategies and develop new strategies for communication within the Working Group.

  • Encourage increased use of the ICOM-CC Forum for the exchange of information.
  • Revise the Metals Working Group webpage.
  • Post all preprints/post-prints from previous Metals Working Group Interim Meetings on the website (freely available). Clarify how this is achieved with large file sizes, author permissions, etc.
  • Revive the Metals Working Group newsletter. Include a more specific focus on news/feature articles and include information from members and colleagues in less represented regions of the world including the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin and South America.

History of the Metals Working Group

  • Record the history of the Metals Working Group in conjunction with the ICOM-CC History Project.
  • Present a snapshot of the history at the Working Group Interim Meeting in New Delhi, India.


  • Organize and hold the 9th ICOM-CC Metals Working Group Interim Meeting in New Delhi, India, September 26-30, 2016. Explore new possibilities for connecting members and colleagues at the meeting; for example, a round-table discussion, student session, dialogue session, panel with allied professionals, debate, walk and talk, and workshops.
  • Organize the Metals Working Group session at the 18th ICOM-CC Triennial Conference in Copenhagen, September 2017. Expand the session to include more participation and possible a joint session with another Working Group (Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Working Group has been suggested).
  • Promote the 6th Experts Meeting on Enamel and Glass on Metal Conservation, to be held in June 2016.
  • Promote other related regional meetings, as appropriate.
  • Funding sources for attending meetings. 


  • Produce a high quality peer-reviewed publication for the 9th ICOM-CC Metals Working Group Interim Meeting in New Delhi.
  • Publish the papers from "Aluminum: History, Technology and Conservation", held in April 2014 in collaboration with the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.


  • Continue collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute for the Conservation of Modern Metals Initiative.
  • Continue collaboration with BROMEC – Bulletin of Research on Metal Conservation. Clarify the status of this publication.
  • Continue collaboration with ENAMELS, a sub-group shared between the Metals and the Glass and Ceramic Working Groups. Promote and disseminate information exchange between the three groups.

Specific themes of research /investigations

 1. Conservation Methods and Materials

Metals Working Group members and colleagues are encouraged to promote the exchange of information and communication, support a collegial environment within which to share information, and deepen knowledge and understanding of metals conservation in all parts of the world. Specific areas of interest for this triennium are:

  • Study and Conservation of Composite Artefacts
    • This theme reflects overlapping concerns of several ICOM-CC Working Groups that deal with objects and collections that include metal components. Composite objects also include those made from different types of metals. The Metals Working Group anticipates developing common activities with other Working Groups such as Glass and Ceramics, Wet Organic Archaeological Materials, Ethnographic Collections, and Modern Materials and Contemporary Art.
  • Stabilization Techniques
    • One of the most critical issues metal conservators face is the long-term stability of artefacts. Stabilization techniques aim to arrest or slow down deterioration, and include chemical, electrochemical, gaseous, and subcritical fluids. Other approaches include the use of coatings and corrosion inhibitors. Evaluation of the relative effectiveness and efficiency of each technique is an important objective. This theme also incorporates mass treatment, in situ stabilization and risk management issues.
  • Outdoor Metals

    • This theme explores the study, documentation and treatment of outdoor metals, including industrial and engineering objects, military heritage, outdoor sculpture and art installations and architectural metals. Understanding the way metals behave in an outdoor environment, including the owner’s use, maintenance routines, and effects of contact with other metals and materials, is critical in their preservation. Emphasis will be placed on the examination of established treatments, new treatment methodologies, and how information and technology sharing from allied industries has led to new and innovative conservation treatments.

  2. Scientific Study and Investigation of Metals

Analytical, metallurgical and electrochemical techniques are widely used in the field of conservation and materials science to characterize, study, document and inform treatment decisions. This theme will encourage the exchange of information of the disciplines involved and techniques employed to study metals artefacts, and to share knowledge in relation to the design of conservation and preservation strategies stemming from these investigations and their relevance to the conservation community.

3. Preventive Conservation

The long-term protection and maintenance of metal artefacts is still a major concern. This theme will explore past practices and new developments in the field of preventive conservation for metal objects. This topic includes the application of risk management for the preventive conservation of collections, particularly for collections containing functional objects. Explore low-tech methods for preventive conservation.

4. Deterioration and Conservation of Modern Metals

There is a growing need in the conservation community to better understand the properties, deterioration and conservation of modern metals and their alloys such as modern steel (specifically, weathering steels - CorTen - and stainless steels), die-casting alloys, aluminium and nickel-chromium alloys. This theme could investigate current strategies to mitigate deterioration and how to characterize, clean, stabilize, and inhibit corrosion of these materials. It also includes awareness of ethical issues such as historical surface finishes, construction techniques and artist intent.

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