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Theory and History in Conservation Working Group
Triennial Programme 2017-2020

Working Group Activities and Projects 2014-2017:


Specific themes for investigation

  • Sources for the History of Conservation
    • Various types of historical sources are to be explored, including artworks themselves. In the context of this theme, we will focus on Technical Art Historical Research and Archival Research regarding conservation theories and methods from the 19th century onwards. Transdisciplinary approaches, joining Technical Art History to Archival Research will be investigated.
  • Transdisciplinary perspectives on Conservation Theory
    • This theme concerns conservation theories that fall outside a Euro-centric perspective, while fostering some kind of relationship that can be seen across territories. Perspectives on intangible heritage theory and its applicability to conservation practice will be explored, and contributions that expand the notion of conservation beyond its materialist practice will be valued.
  • Ethics in Contemporary Art Conservation
    • Contemporary Art Conservation theory and ethics is growing along with contemporary artistic practices. This theme focusses on the ethics of intervening in these artworks, while interpreting intervention actions in an expanded field, which comprises restoration, preventive conservation, documentation, or other emerging conservation practices.



  • The Working Group will try to organise a joint meeting with Paintings Working Group, focusing on the History of Painting Conservation.
  • A Symposium about transdisciplinary perspectives in conservation is planned for Brazil in 2019 (at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and/or Instituto Inhotim). This Symposium is expected to have a related peer-reviewed publication.
  • A one-day Workshop on Theory and Ethics in Contemporary Art Conservation in collaboration with New Approaches to the Conservation of Contemporary Art (NACCA).


  • Continue communication through the newsletter, and discussions on the Theory and History Working Group Facebook page.
    • During this triennial period, one newsletter will be published per year. Ongoing communication will occur mostly via our Facebook page. 


  • Emerging Professionals Network Project
    • This project aims at providing Emerging Professionals (conservators graduated in the last 5 years) support to start their career.
    • Selected tutors will appear in Facebook Live Webinars and answer questions asked by participants. Three Webinars are planned for this pilot three-year period. Tutors will be selected due to their relevance in the field and through a strategy of availability. Webinars will be arranged concomitantly to meetings or other events that might bring tutors to Portugal or to the Netherlands. 
    • In order to pursue this venture, Theory and History of Conservation Working Group will try to work on collaborating with existing structures.
  • Theory and History of Conservation Bibliography Project
    • Focus on making past Interim Meeting publications available. This effort will contribute to furthering online access to past Working Group Publications on the ICOM-CC Publications Online Platform.
  • Sources for the History of Conservation
    • The Film Index Project: continuation of the Working Group project on creating a Conservation Film Index.
    • The proposal focuses on the collection of information about films documenting conservation procedures and events, or showing historically important persons.
    • Plan to establish a place on the Working Group webpage, where members can contribute to information about the films and where they are archived. 
  • Continue support of the FAIC Oral History project.
    • The Oral History Project began in 1975 under the auspices of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) and now contains nearly 350 transcripts of interviews. We will encourage members to actively participate in this project.







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