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Joint Interim Meeting ICOM-CC Paintings Working Group and Theory, History, and Ethics of Conservation Working Group

August 26 2019


This meeting intends to explore the ways in which the culture of paintings conservation has changed throughout the years, and how it continues to evolve in light of recent theoretical advancements and social shifts. Ahead of ICOM-CC’s 19th Triennial Meeting, to be held in Beijing, 14-20 September 2020, this joint Interim Meeting of the Paintings and Theory, History, and Ethics of Conservation Working Groups will focus on various aspects of conservation practice, starting with how we get to know the artworks we conserve and exploring how our ways of seeing them are influenced by both the context of their creation and the contexts and conditions in which conservators operate. This joint meeting will explore the various ways cultures of conservation, conservators, and artworks co-constitute each other in practice and in theory.

The meeting will focus on three aspects related to the ways we practice conservation and that directly influence discussions around history, ethics, and theory:

Themes around Sources in conservation research and practice

  • The use of multiple sources (e.g. archives, artworks, artists, etc.) in the construction of historical narratives on artworks or conservation practices;
  • Oral history in the conservation of paintings;
  • The development of the conservator’s practical skills as a source of knowledge production – research design and historically accurate reproductions;
  • Conservation histories as source material

Themes around Conservation structures: between conservators and institutions

  • The role of the conservator;
  • The influence of cultural preferences on conservation practices;
  • Cross-disciplinary collaboration in the conservation of paintings – e.g. historical perspectives on the influence of Technical Art History in conservation theory and practice’
  • Different voices in conservation decision-making and ethics;
  • Theoretical reflections on future intersections of different knowledge production activities related to the conservation of paintings

Themes around Conservation theory in dialogue with social-political contexts

  • The impact of social contexts in conservation decision-making and ethics;
  • Socio-cultural relativity – conservation practices as a product of their time;
  • Conservation within the concept of the “New Museum”;
  • The influence of political processes on conservation procedures and practices

Submissions are due on September 30, 2019. Proposals including a short biographical note and the authors' details along with a 300-word abstract should be sent directly to

The full call for papers as well as the conference's website will be available shortly and will keep you informed as they go online.

This initiative is the result of a combined effort between both Working Groups and the host institution. I want to particularly acknowledge the contribution of the Assistant Coordinators of the Working Group - Brian Castriota, Davina Kuh Jakobi, Esther van Duijn, and Patricia Engel, which was essential for the timely release of this call for papers. 

I hope you will feel inspired to submit something for our Interim Meeting. In the meanwhile please contact us if you have any questions or ideas.

Hélia Marçal
Coordinator of the Theory, History, and Ethics Working Group

Elisabeth Ravaud
Coordinator Paintings Working Grou