Archived News and Events

Decolonizing Collections and Prioritizing Community Partnerships

(December 7, 2020 1pm PST/4pm EST)

Calls to decolonize collections and partner with communities have gained momentum in recent years. Decolonizing would mean transforming the way we view and interact with collections and people, de-centering white colonizer perspectives, and addressing the traumatic histories that have led to our existing systems. The current racial justice movement has made the need to be inclusive and to partner with communities even more clear. What would it look like if we rejected conservation’s traditional top-down approach and instead shared authority with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color? This session will examine the need to dismantle our problematic foundations and discuss how we can enrich our work through partnerships with others. Click here to view the recording.


Héctor J. Berdecía-Hernández, Amy Tjiong


Brandie Macdonald, Melanie Adams, Joel Garcia

Exploring the Conservation Ethics of Contested Monuments

(October 26, 2020)

Image credit: Petra Szilagi

The controversy surrounding Confederate statues and other contested monuments that celebrate slave owners, imperialism, and white settler colonialism have been highlighted in recent months. Although activists have advocated for the removal of these monuments for years, the racial unrest this summer has brought these issues to the forefront of the cultural heritage sector and greater society as community activists empower themselves to take down such monuments all over the world. This has caused conflicted feelings in some conservators who want to support racial justice in public spaces, but who have been traditionally taught to always prioritize the preservation of outdoor sculpture and monuments. Conservators may also be conflicted if their employers task them with the care of contested monuments, calling professional ethics into question. At the crux of the matter are questions surrounding who is valued in our society and who gets to make decisions in regard to public spaces and the interpretation of history. Competing values surrounding the removal of contested monuments will be explored with panelists including artists, historians, and preservation professionals.

Sponsored by FAIC, the AIC Equity & Inclusion Committee, and Emerging Conservation Professionals Network

Watch the webinar here


Nylah Byrd, Laleña Vellanoweth


Dr. Renée Ater, Brent Leggs, Ada Pinkston

Arts Tune-Up: Preservation Tips for Artists

(October 21-23, 2020)

Join us in conversation with professional art conservators from across the field as they share their knowledge about how to plan for the long-term care of your artwork in a variety of contexts. Over seven different sessions, presenters will cover both general and specific information and best practices that will help you mitigate risks while maintaining your original artistic intent. 
LaStarsha McGarity will present about choosing materials, Shannon will present about the collaborative process between artists and conservators, and Nylah Byrd will present about proper storage, handling, and transporting artworks with Magdalena Solano.

CBS Sunday Morning

“CBS Sunday Morning” features stories on the arts, music, nature, entertainment, sports, history, science, Americana, and highlights unique human accomplishments and achievements. 

In 1940, at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago (marking the 75th anniversary of Emancipation), evocative dioramas were created to celebrate the often-unacknowledged achievements of African Americans. Today conservators, including African American students, are restoring these dioramas, bringing their magic, artistry, and history, back to life. LaStarsha McGarity was briefly featured discussing her conservation treatment on one of Tuskegee University’s twenty dioramas. Correspondent Rita Braver reports. 

Click here to watch the story

ONLINE: Death to Museums, Virtual Dialogue Series

Death to Museums is an unconference created by emerging professionals who graduated from a museum studies master’s program amidst a global pandemic. Their inaugural two-day event will be held on Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2. Each day features presentations on wide-ranging topics, all with the goal of challenging oppressive museum practices and re-evisioning them anew. As part of the program, Black Art Conservators member, Nylah Byrd, will present Combating Racism at Winterthur Museum alongside Magdalena Solano and Benét Burton. Death to Museums full schedule and event registration.

Click here to watch the August 1 recorded event

Click here to watch the August 2 recorded event

ONLINE: Open Letters and a Decolonial Framework

During a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, art and cultural workers are calling for the end of anti-blackness, systemic racism, and structural injustices within art realm. People who work in the artist realm (artists, curators, educators, frontline staff, art conservators, cultural heritage workers, and others) are using public-facing strategies like open letters to demand the resignation of leaders, defunding the police, diversification of staff and collections, and an overall acknowledgment of practices that uphold colonialism and white supremacy within art spaces. Conversation includes Hammer curator Erin Christovale; artist Jasmine Gregory, representative from Black Artists and Cultural Workers in Switzerland; art conservator LaStarsha McGarity, representative from Black Art Conservators; and Yesomi Umolu, director and curator of Logan Center Exhibitions at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago.

Click here to watch ONLINE: Open Letters and a Decolonial Framework

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