2014 saw Australia hosting the ICOM CC conference for the second time, the first being in Sydney in 1987. The museum world has changed substantially in the intervening 27 years. Conservators are no longer focused on saving the world’s cultural heritage for ever, but on managing change. They recognise that not all objects are equal. They understand the need for informed conservation, where significance, available resources and environmental context all need consideration.
This paper will briefly review the story of Australian conservation since 1987. It will examine where conservators sit in the current museum hierarchy, what tasks they are now being asked to perform, and the particular nature of the Australian museum conservation scene as against that in North America and Europe.
It will look realistically at what the future may hold for the conservator’s role in museums and the value we can bring to museums great and small.
Julian is the Managing Director of ICS, a Professional member of AICCM, a Fellow of IIC, and Vice President and Director of Communications for IIC. He has long had an interest in the interface between the conservation profession and the wider museum sector.