Earlier this month Thea Burns, Dawn Rogala, Allison Pappas and Birgit Cleppe presented their papers at the 2016 College Art Association Annual Conference in Washington. The session titled The Explicit Material: On the Intersections of Cultures of Curation and Conservation was chaired by Francesca Bewer and myself. The session invited an interdisciplinary dialogue between people already engaged in the museological discourse, and those willing to establish links between the fields of conservation and curation. Participants included conservation scholars, curators and academics. Our interest in conjoining curatorial expertise with conservation knowledge and the long tradition of combining hand and eye sensitivity to materials and technical processes derived from the conviction that insufficient attention has been paid to the benefits of interdisciplinary thinking about the materiality of objects. Conservation emerged as a field profoundly preoccupied with the nature of artworks. However, with the development of increasingly sophisticated tools of examination and analysis, the primacy of the object and the physical constitution appear to have gained ground in both academic und museological discourses. In fact, conservation has now become recognized as a field that has much to contribute to the humanities given the greater knowledge its findings afford us concerning how humans shape and use materials and objects. This link redirects to an article that discusses this topic more in depth.
We are planning to continue working on this topic and publish its results. Please follow us in Basel at the Third Basel Congress for Art Historians in June (Schweizerischer Kongress für Kunstgeschichte Basel, June 23-25, 2016), where I chair a thematically parallel session organized in cooperation with Katharina Ammann.