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Past Triennial Sessions - Abstracts

Articles published within the 'Ethnographic Collections' section of the ICOM-CC Preprints of the 15th Triennial Meeting, Delhi (India), 22-26 September 2008, Vol. I, James & James, 2008:

Tharron Bloomfield, Pupura te mahara – Preserving the memory: Working with Mäori commmunities on preservation projects in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

ABSTRACT: This paper is from the perspective of a Māori conservator from New Zealand who works with Māori communities. It discusses case studies and identifies specific risks to Māori collections in New Zealand. The National Preservation Office (NPO) established the position of Maori Preservation Officer to provide advice and assistance to iwi (tribes), hapu (sub-tribes) and whanau (families). The Māori Preservation Officer’s role is to empower Maori communities to preserve their material for themselves. This is done through providing advice, training and practical assistance. Conservators are responsible for the care of their collections but must also take responsibility to provide guidance to communities when they are asked to. The challenge is how to effectively collaborate with communities. The NPO is one example of an institution that successfully collaborates with communities on a national level.

Renata Peters, The Brave New World of Conservation.

ABSTRACT: The dynamics of control over cultural material held by museums and related institutions in the western world have undergone significant changes in the last 20 years. This relates mainly to the inclusion of non-professional groups in decision-making processes traditionally restricted to museum professionals. The discipline of conservation is now considered a social as well as a technical and scientific process; every conservation action may involve complex negotiations where condition of the material fabric of objects is only one of many factors in play. This socially, politically and economically aware approach is already recognised as placing conservators in complex positions. This paper will address reasons for and implications of these circumstances by looking at some aspects of how the conservation discipline is perceived, understood and practiced in the contemporary western world.

Monique Pullan & Alexandra Baldwin, The Evolution of a Treatment Strategy for an Akali Sikh Turban.

ABSTRACT: An unusual nineteenth-century Akali Sikh war turban from the collections of the British Museum shows severe deterioration of black dyed cotton textile and corrosion of metal weapons. A treatment strategy was developed in a collaborative project between textiles and metals conservators. Laser cleaning is suggested as a promising method for treating the metal. Various de-acidification and consolidation methods have been considered for treating the textile. The appropriateness of conserving extremely degraded objects is questioned. The possibility of deconstructing the object for treatment and subsequent storage or display is considered. The proposal concludes by exploring the construction of a replica turban on which to mount the quoits, whilst developing buffered storage for the original turban. Members of the British Sikh community were consulted during the development of the proposals.

Anne MacKay, A string of beads unbroken: Continuity and collaboration in an exhibition of Iroquois beadwork.

ABSTRACT: This paper describes the collaborative process that was undertaken in the production of an exhibition of Iroquois beadwork entitled Across Borders: Beadwork in Iroquois Life. This collaboration brought together contributions from Aboriginal curators, beadworkers and communities, as well as academics and staff from Canadian and American museums. It examines the context in which the exhibition was produced, the planning process, the content and the travel of the exhibition and outlines how the treatment and display options available to conservation were influenced by its collaborative nature.

Vinod Daniel, Emily Waterman, Paul Monaghan & Leslie Christidis, Australian Museum-Pacific Island Museums and Communities: A partnership approach.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents an exciting approach being undertaken by the Australian Museum in safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Museum as a premier natural history and anthropological institution is taking a leadership role that fits in well with the spirit of the UNESCO Intangible Heritage Convention (2003) by providing access to its collection and in the process collecting and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. This has benefits for both the Museum and Pacific creator communities. Through these initiatives to “Unlock Collections”. The Museum is able to gather intangible knowledge that enriches its collections while the Pacific creator communities are able to revive traditional practices and designs as well as recreate artefacts through access to these collections. The paper will also highlight the long term ongoing relationships between the Australian Museum and Pacific communities which provide a sustainable basis for these initiatives.

Janice Criswell, Molly Gleeson, Samantha Springer & Teri Rofkar, Beyond Cultural Sensitivity and Toward Cultural Centeredness: Insights into the Preservation of Alaskan Spruce Root Basketry.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents a project carried out in Juneau and Sitka, Alaska during the summer of 2007 between conservators and Native Alaskan weavers. The insights obtained by the weavers and conservators are presented in their own words in an attempt to move ethnographic conservation beyond cultural sensitivity towards cultural centeredness. The weavers share their backgrounds, relationships with the baskets in the museums, experiences working with conservators, and perspectives on the preservation of baskets. The conservators discuss how working with native weavers impacted their understanding and knowledge of spruce root baskets.

Philippe Bruguière, Jean-Philippe Echard, Pascaline Haegele, Sandie Le Conte & Stéphane Vaiedelich, Towards better conservation: a scientific examination of musical instruments from the princely courts of North India.

ABSTRACT: The Musée de la musique in Paris includes within its ethnographic collections some ancient musical instruments from India. Scientific investigations have been undertaken on these little-known and rare objects. A major temporary exhibition dedicated in 2003 to the musical heritage of North India, displayed precious manuscripts and paintings along with a hundred-odd musical instruments lent by international institutions. Non-destructive observations and analyses enriched previous studies of the decorated motifs and the acoustic properties of these objects. Microscopic examinations and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry allowed to underscore common features of the layer structures of the painted ornamentation and to obtain data on the inorganic pigments and precious metals used in similar painting techniques. The measurement of the Helmholtz resonance frequency of gourd resonators has revealed that traditional makers were aware of their acoustic response and highly vigilant in their selection.

Mark Sandy & Louise Bacon, A tensile testing method for monocotyledon leaves with parallel venation.

ABSTRACT: Many ethnographic artifacts in collections incorporate monocotyledon leaves. Monocotyledon leaves have parallel venation in which fibres run parallel to the long axis of the leaf. These leaves typically have high tensile strength parallel to their long axis. These plant materials have been the subject of relatively little investigation by conservation scientists. This paper discusses a method developed for applying tensile testing to monocotyledon leaves which draws on practical methods and theoretical concepts used in biomechanical research. The results of this method applied to the material raffia are discussed. This material, derived from the leaflets of Raphia palm, frequently becomes brittle and fragile on ageing.

Nancy Odegaard & Christopher White, Preliminary Patterns of Adhesive Use in Prehistoric and Modern Repairs of Southwestern Pottery in the United States.

ABSTRACT: The collection of whole ceramic vessels at the Arizona State Museum (ASM) spans nearly 2000 years and encompasses all the major cultures and historical periods of the Southwestern United States. A survey including the examination of adhesives and residues was undertaken and has resulted in valuable information about the conservation and repair history of the vessels. By using visible examination, chemical spot testing, UV autofluorescence, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) distinctive patterns of adhesive use have revealed how cultural groups, archaeologists, and conservators have used adhesives and repair techniques over time. The survey has also provided conservators with valuable insight into the efficacy of past repairs. Assessing the results will allow conservators to develop treatment strategies and prioritize conservation resources according to the needs of the collection. The opportunity to reconstruct early repair practices provides the museum conservators and curators with a valuable tool to evaluate, protect, and study this important collection.

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Articles published within the 'Ethnographic Collections' section of the ICOM-CC Preprints of the 14th Triennial Meeting, The Hague, 12-16 September 2005, Vol. I, James & James, 2005:

Mônica Lima de Carvalho, Kuikuro and Karajà techniques for gathering, processing, and using plant materials, pp. 83-88.

ABSTRACT: A comparative and contrastive analysis of construction methods and the technology of Kuikuro and Karajà ethnographic artifacts is presented. The work focuses on techniques of harvest and use of plant materials in the production of ethnographic objects, with special attention to weaving and basketry construction. The data discussed in the paper were gathered in fieldwork sessions with the Kuikuro people of the Xingu National Park and the Karajà people of Goiàs. The understanding of plant material technology gained by this comparison has largely aided the conservation of artifacts of the Museu Antropològico (Goiânia, Brazil) collection and, it is hoped, will serve as a contribution to the field, because it provides a broader understanding of the technology involved in the construction of these cultural artifacts.

Jessica S. Johnson, Susan Heald and Lauren Chang, Case studies in pesticide identification at the National Museum of the American Indian, pp. 89-95.

ABSTRACT: The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), like most museums with older collections, is dealing with a legacy of past pesticide application that has left these collections contaminated. NMAI, along with several institutions and individuals, has recently been involved in several projects to develop resources and techniques for identification of the pesticides. The work at NMAI has focused on developing methodologies and informaton resources that are as useful to tribes as we can make them. The goal is to provide information that allows people to make informed decisions so that the health and safety of individuals is not threatened when objects are returened to the community.

Marian A. Kaminitz, Robert Kentta and David Moses Bridges, First person voice: Native communities and conservation consultations at the National Museum of the American Indian, pp. 96-102.

ABSTRACT: Conservation consultations with Native peoples produce more valuable results for conservation treatment work than when conservators work with secondary sources. The conservation staff at the National Msueum of the American Indian have been consulting with Native peoples through much of the museum's 16 year history. The impact for Native communities is reported from the perspective of co-authors Kentta and Bridges.

Angie Liow, Alvin Tee and Timothy S. Hayes, A study of the materials and techniques of two Dayak longhouse models, pp. 103-109.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents the findings of a recently completed research projet that studied the materials and techniques used in the construction of a collection of Southeast Asian house models. A comparative study of tropical plant fibres determined whether the models were constructed of similar materials to the buildings they represent. Each category of plant fibre was evaluated for its botanical features, material properties and characteristic forms of deterioration. Two of the largest models are examined in this paper for their material composition, structural condition and conservation treatment.

Helene Tello, Achim Unger, Frank Gockel and Erich Jelen, Decontamination of ethnological objects with supercritical carbon dioxide, pp. 110-119.

ABSTRACT: In the past, ethnological objects were extensively treated with highly toxic arsenic and mercury compounds as well as chlorine-containing pesticides. As a consequence it is now very difficult to handle, store, exhibit and conserve such objects. This paper describes the effect of decontamination with carbon dioxide above its critical point (+31 degrees Celsius and 74 bar). The decontamination rate for mercury, DDT and lindane is very high. Arsenic and PCP can be removed to a lower extent. Materials with oily and fatty components are sensitive to supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) with carbon dioxide.

Désirée C. J. Wisse, Agnes W. Brokerhof and Tatja Scholte, Decisions on the restoration ofa Trobriand yam storehouse: the 'Decision Making Model for the Conservation and Restoration of Modern Art' applied to an ethnographic object, pp. 120-126.

ABSTRACT: In this paper the application of a decision-making model is described for the conservation of an ethnographic object: a Trobriand yam storehouse kept in storage at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam. The process leading to advice for treatment based on the meaning and the condition of the object, and the applicability of the model, are discussed. The paper concludes with specific remarks on the actual restoration in progress and general remarks on the meaning of ethographic objects and the ethics of their conservation.

 Poster submissions published within the same publication:

M. Klaus, J. Plitnikas, R. Norton, T. Almazan and S. Coleman, Preliminary Results from a Survey for Residual Arsenic on the North American Ethnographic Collections at The Field Museum, Chicago, p. 127.


Bella Zurcher, Conservation of Marind-anim 'dema' costumes, p. 127.


For more information on the ICOM-CC 2005 Triennial Preprints, or to order, go to: Earthscan - James & James

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