Contributions to the AICCM National Conference 2017, Katoomba 1 – 3 November 2017.  Poster 


In June of 2000 a Skills Gap Audit was conducted by the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) on behalf of the Heritage Collections Council (HCC) to investigate the skill gaps which exist for conservators in Australia. Several skill gaps were identified by conservators. One was the recognition that many traditional trade skills (TTS) required for the conservation of cultural material were being lost. The knowledge and expertise, no longer being required as a trade, was not being passed on or few people were still practising. In 2003, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO 2003). This convention recognised that ‘…traditional craftsmanship is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of intangible heritage…’ (UNESCO 2003) and ‘… the importance of intangible cultural heritage is not necessarily the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next…’ (UNESCO 2003). Conservation involves the care of a variety of objects, many of which were constructed when traditional skills were an accepted part of society. Access to these TTS is essential for ongoing effective and professional conservation practice. To address the issue of the survival of TTS and to acquire an understanding of the current needs of conservation professionals in Australia, a new survey was submitted to conservators, conservation students and people involved in allied and supportive conservation roles. Data collected presents an overview of which TTS are applicable to conservation. Is there still a perceived skills gap relating to traditional trades? What difficulties do conservators have in accessing these trades? How can the skills gap be addressed? This paper examines the results of this survey. It brings into focus the importance of traditional trades and the knowledge and expertise they can supply to conservators, beginning a new dialogue regarding possible training models for TTS and a proposed framework for their conservation and sustainability.

BIOGRAPHIES Bronwyn Dunn graduated from the University of Sydney majoring in Fine Arts and languages. After pursuing a career in the jewellery industry as a registered jewellery valuer, she returned to the arts by enrolling in the Master of Cultural Material Conservation course at the University of Melbourne and graduated at the end of 2016. Currently, Bronwyn is working as a conservator at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, NSW, based mainly at the Museum Discovery Centre in Castle Hill.

2017 AICCM National Conference - Collaborate Connect Conserve
Paper author:
Bronwyn Dunn and Robyn Sloggett