Confronting our Biases to Transform Conservation
2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual MeetingSession
Organizer: American Institute for Conservation, Equity & Inclusion Committee
(May 10, 2021)
Biases affect both our personal choices as conservators and inform larger institution-wide policies. As conservators we have been taught to make non-value-based decisions. However, our backgrounds inevitably filter into our decision-making processes. Conservators are involved in discussions regarding how/if art objects are collected, displayed, and preserved. We also make hiring decisions and are involved with community engagement. The subtle but significant problem of implicit bias in all of these areas can hinder our desire for inclusivity. Conversely, if we recognize and confront our own biases, then we can transform our practice and help make the cultural heritage field more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible. The goals of this session are to better understand and develop personal strategies to identify implicit associations in conservation, from the individual level to the institutional level. We will explore this topic through a mix of presentations and panel discussion. The three speakers are leaders on this topic from the cultural heritage sector: Stephanie A. Johnson-Cunningham, Dr. Porchia Moore, and Seema Rao. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the implicit biases we all carry and how they influence their work, and see examples of how others have effected change.
- Stephanie A. Johnson-Cunningham, Co-Founder and Director of Museum Hue
- Dr. Porchia Moore, Department Head and Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, University of Florida
- Seema Rao, Deputy Director and Chief Experience Officer, Akron Art Museum
This program is open to everyone (both AIC conference attendees and non-attendees).
“Telling Our Own Story: The Threat of Whiteness in Conservation.”
(April 1, 2021)
The Washington Conservation Guild Presented their Eighth Meeting of the 2020/2021 Season. Presenters include Jeanelle Austin and Acoma Gaither. View the recording here.
Jeanelle Austin, George Floyd Memorial Lead Caretaker
Acoma Gaither, MACC Racial Justice and Collections Care Fellow
Conservation is Not Neutral: Emotion and Bias in our Work
Traditional models of conservation have taught us to attempt to maintain scientific objectivity at all times. However, in reality what has historically been called “objectivity” is actually just the continuation of the majority perspective, which was enshrined as ‘objective fact’ by scientific theories that went hand in hand with colonial subjugation of non-white people. As our job is to aid in the preservation of history, perhaps we should not try to eliminate feelings from our handling of emotionally significant artifacts, even when those artifacts do not emotionally
resonate with us personally. This session will explore the principle of neutrality in conservation and discuss how bias contributes to inequity in our field. Click here to view the recording of the event.
LaStarsha McGarity, Anita Dey
La Tanya Autry, Dr. Jontyle Robinson, Jamaal Sheats
For a list of archived events, click this link.
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