Institute of Archaeology
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Conservation in Practice: Conservation Management


This course looks at collections management and condition surveys, and at the commissioning, planning and management of conservation projects.

Aims of the course

It is easy for conservators to dream of an ideal world, where conservation ‘just happens’ and they can spend as long as they like working on objects. But real life is not like that: decisions have to be made about which objects are most in need of conservation, and how the conservation work should be recorded. There are pressures imposed by the opening of exhibitions, by limited finance, by the views of the owner, or by the need to get on with the next job. Colleagues may not see things in the same light as you do: they may be more concerned with visitor numbers, with education or with presentation. All these pressures are part of the daily life of the conservator, and in this course we will look at ways in which pressures are handled and managed in a number of different situations.

This course presents a conservator’s view of conservation management. It considers; collections management, prioritisation, risk assessment, information gathering, documentation, condition survey, project management, decision making, access, evaluation, etc.

The course will consider the ways in which conservation decisions are influenced by the priorities of the institutions in which conservation takes place. It will examine the different types of information on which decisions are based, both within the context of museums, historic properties and archaeological sites. It will consider some practical aspects of getting conservation ‘done’. There will be visits during which students will meet museum professionals in the work place.

The course thus aims to provide a wide-ranging and challenging introduction to the principles and practice of conservation management and collections management. It is concerned primarily, but not exclusively, with museum and archaeological objects and collections, rather than structures and sites.

The course is a half-unit course, and is one of the four core courses for the MA in the Principles of Conservation. It can be taken on its own by students on other programmes, or it can be taken with G140 Conservation Practice: Preventive Conservation

Objectives

On successful completion of the course, you should:

  • understand the issues that must be considered in planning and executing conservation;
  • be aware of current approaches to the management and documentation of collections;
  • be aware of approaches to the control or avoidance of deterioration in museum objects;
  • be able to undertake an assessment of museum collections and identify options for improvement.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • synthesise data and reach appropriate conclusions
  • present reports summarising quantitative data
  • undertake critical analysis of diverse literature

Teaching Methods

The course is taught by lectures, tutorials, and visits

  •  Read about a recent fieldtrip to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew here»
  • Code: ARCLG139
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Caitlin O'Grady
  • Methods of Assessment: A report (4000 words) (100%).
  • Prerequisite: There are no prerequisites for the course. Nonetheless, if you want to expand your knowledge of particular topics, you are welcome to attend (but not be assessed for) any undergraduate or Master’s course in the Institute, provided you have the agreement of the course’s coordinator.

For registered students

  • Moodle page: open»
  • Turnitin id: 611571
  • Reading list: open»

Availability: Runs every year


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