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Graphic Documents Working Group Triennial Programme 2020-2023

Graphic Documents Working Group Triennial Programme 2020-2023

Specific themes for investigation/ideas

Material degradation: especially in the context of exhibitions. The contact of exhibition materials with the original object and possible cross-contamination seems to be a valuable topic to explore with the members of this Working Group who are mostly based in institutions, but also among freelance conservators. Emissions from paper-based objects in enclosed exhibition cases and their potential effect on accelerating the degradation within display-cases, namely in permanent exhibitions, will also be considered. Within this subject, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) would also be interesting to discuss and could be a topic for an Interim Meeting.

Sustainable conservation methods: the Working Group would like to address sustainability and reflect on what the state-of-the-art is, especially for paper conservators. Several initiatives to make conservation and display more sustainable are already being explored but it is not always obvious how thoroughly these new approaches are understood and implemented among the Working Group members and the scientific community. When looking at sustainability, we would look at the application of green chemistry in conservation practices (waste minimisation, use of catalysts in place of reagents, improved atom efficiency, use of non-toxic or less toxic reagents, use of renewable materials, use of solvent-free or recyclable and environmentally benign solvent systems, for example, water (cf. Papers from the October 2017 Gels in the Conservation of Art conference held by IAP and Tate).
The subject of sustainability would also encompass loans and exhibitions, storage and building performance. We would look at the huge amount of wrapping, protective and disposable materials generated by the production of temporary exhibitions, including display cases made from acrylic instead of glass for cost purposes but which are much less durable.
We would also like to explore what sustainability means in terms of people and what new strategies are being developed in terms of the CO2-footprint, sustainable lighting systems and exhibition design, air conditioning systems, and alternative energy sources.
Both the topics of material degradation and sustainability – especially with regards to loans and exhibitions materials - are greatly interconnected and could form one larger subject-matter.

Diversity in Conservation: The Working Group would like to look at diversity and ways of dealing with this important topic. Ideally, exchanges with members will be encouraged in order to look at diversity within our Working Group. This would have to be on a voluntary basis (information and opinions only used and published with express permission) to comply with GDPR. We would also like to look at how different institutions or individuals currently approach diversity around the globe.
With this in mind, the Working Group thought it would be valuable to build bridges, establish connections and exchange knowledge with Chinese colleagues in the field of book and paper conservation. Assistant coordinator Yuhui Liu is willing to act as an ambassador in this respect. Bearing in mind that the Chinese population has developed and used paper for centuries, we are interested in how tradition and new technologies and practices interconnect and how we can learn from each other. The idea would be to create deeper connections with colleagues outside of Europe and the USA.

Book conservation: This triennium the Graphic Documents Working Group will refocus its aims to include, as it did historically, book and 3-D paper-objects conservation. This will hopefully mean that the topics tackled by the Working Group at large will incorporate paper but also leather, parchment, wood and other materials.


Communication: the Working Group will use the ICOM-CC Website to notify
members of all activities and use the mailing list for communication.
Additionally, the Working Group would like to try and push the use of social media, to highlight special events, announce activities, advertise an Interim Meeting and generally engage more with members on select topics. The goal would also be to highlight events and news via the Global Conservation Forum (ConsDistList) in order to exchange with the conservation community at large.
We would like to use the podcast format to interview conservator-tandems (emerging and senior conservators). The podcasts may be published via the ICOM-CC website and advertised via Working Group newsletters/group-wide emails, on social media and the ConDistList.

Membership actions: Privacy concerns permitting, we would like to use the Newsletter format to introduce our members – with a professional bio for example, to learn about their specific competencies. The idea is for the group to get to know its members better and introduce them to each other, to foster more interactions. The Newsletter seems to be a good medium to highlight who is involved in the Working Group. The Coordinator and Assistant Coordinators will begin by introducing themselves with a photo and a bio and we will encourage other members to do the same.
Plans for interim activities: a two-day online and virtual Interim Meeting via Zoom with a mixture of presentations, lab tours, video-handouts and podcasts is planned. A specific platform for emerging conservators will be a part of the meeting goals. An online publication of the meeting outcomes is planned. The end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 would be a good time to have the Interim Meeting. The exact timing and duration will have to be discussed to allow for as many members as possible to attend from different time zones.

Plans for partnerships or informal exchanges with other Working Groups: we would like to invite the Preventive Conservation Working Group to join forces for the Interim activities to open up the scope of the Graphic Documents Working Group. The Scientific Research Working Group has also been contacted with the goal of establishing if there are potential topics to be developed in conjunction with them during the upcoming term.

Emerging professionals: we would like to use the Newsletter, as well as the proposed podcasts, to engage with emerging conservators: we would like to present topics that are relevant to young conservators, give them a platform to present their work and ideas and also address the coronavirus situation and the impact it has had, especially from the perspective of students.

ICOM-CC Publications Online Platform Project: the Working Group will also assist with gathering information for the Publications Online Platform Project related to the Working Groups’ past publications, as well as any further work required to place publications generated in this Triennial online, as needed.

ICOM-CC acknowledges and highly values the contributions and additional efforts required by the Working Group Coordinators towards converting the Beijing 19th Triennial Conference to a fully virtual event. Additional workloads are being carried by Coordinators from both the past and current triennia to ensure a vibrant and exciting conference.