Preserving treasured items

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Conservators Offer Help to Recover Damaged Treasures and Collections

Thanks to all who have pledged support, offered advice, and forwarded our request for assistance regarding the Victorian bushfires. The Victorian Division of the AICCM have met and mapped out a plan for action in the weeks and months ahead, which has the support of the AICCM National Council. We want people in arts and cultural heritage organizations to know that we want to work alongside them to assist in the recovery and care of collections damaged by the bushfires. Below is a rough outline of what we hope to achieve.

Immediate assistance

We are still trying to direct people in the affected areas to information they can use when they return to their homes and towns to salvage what they can. Our main concerns are: people’s personal safety, advice on handling and storing items to be dealt with later, and making people aware that if something is recognisable it may possibly be saved with conservation treatment. We’d like to get basic leaflets out to people as soon as possible as they undertake salvage work at their homes.

We would also like to make further rescue remedy information available to them within a couple of weeks, along with salvage packages consisting of storage and recovery materials such as:

· Marbig A4 sleeves

· Card/board supports to insert in the sleeves

· Gloves and dust masks

· Small containers and boxes for storing damaged objects

· An information leaflet with brief lists of salvage approaches for different types of objects

We are hoping to deliver these resources to the Recovery Centres or other relevant support centres and if possible have conservators there to offer advice along with the kits.

Within the next three – six months

In the case of public collections we want to offer our help in salvage efforts (retrieval and documentation) and to hold working bees to clean, rehouse and offer remedial conservation. In May, we would also like to send volunteers to provide clinics. Through these day/half day clinics we aim to offer advice to private individuals, provide demonstrations on basic cleaning measures and possibly conduct some remedial conservation. If there is sufficient funding and support, treatment clinics may possibly be carried out later in the year.

Donations and support

Funding is essential for this to proceed. Institutional support, donations, grants and integration with insurance claims are some of the various issues that should be considered. Support in administering and managing this response – through provision of staff, equipment, materials, vehicles and financial donations – is also welcome.

The dates and extent of this project will largely be determined by the requests for assistance made by affected institutions and communities, the support of institutions by means of freeing up staff to work on this effort, offers of materials and equipment, vehicles to transport people and materials to the communities, and available support from AICCM members.

As conservators we know that we can provide support to preserve the cultural heritage that remains after this unprecedented disaster. Objects that survive disasters take on a new significance especially in the dire circumstances of this disaster, making this effort all the more important.

We want to work with institutions and organizations to do what is best within our areas of expertise. Please let us know what assistance you need or what you and your institution can do to help as we move toward providing material assistance to communities in need.

Thanks again,

Alex Ellem

President, Victorian Division, AICCM

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