It was great to meet so many CMP people at the State History Conference earlier this month. All up, there were more than 200 people who came to Kadina for a weekend of exploring our past – lots of interesting papers and a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. Saturday afternoon provided an opportunity for field trips exploring various aspects of the region’s history. The Saturday-night dinner in Moonta was a huge success, too.
Friday workshop at the State History Conference
About 45 people joined us on the Friday afternoon for a free session led by Artlab conservator Justin Gare, who talked about caring for large and working objects, such as motor vehicles and machinery. The key message of this workshop was that it is important to make a thorough assessment of the significance of an object before you embark on any kind of conservation or restoration work. Allison went through some of the fundamentals of significance – and suggested that people look at the publications Safe in the Shed http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/docs/safeinshed_final.pdf and Significance http://significance.collectionscouncil.com.au/ for further information.
Justin explained the difference between conservation (the action of prolonging the existence of an object) , preservation (actions taken to maintain an object in its existing condition) and restoration (actions taken to modify the existing material and structure of an object in order to return it to a known earlier condition). These definitions are discussed in a help sheet on the History Trust website. http://www.history.sa.gov.au/chu/programs/museums_grants_help_sheets.html) Justin also discussed some examples of different approaches from the National Motor Museum. The advice from the workshop was that if an object is deemed to be historically significant, it is best to opt for conservation rather than restoration, since the significance of an object may be eroded when it is restored.
Discussion at the end of the session agreed that it would be useful to have a framework and examples that could act as a ‘tool’ to help make these decisions. Allison has since been in touch with Artlab conservator Joanna Barr to discuss this further. Joanna has devised a framework to help with this kind of decision making, and we are looking at adapting it for use in small museums.
We will be looking to try it out with a few museums in the future, so if you are interested, please let us know.