This session will explore how the conservation profession has been affected by COVID at an International, State and local level. We are engaging Prof Jane Henderson to present a paper from the UK and are looking to include State and local organisations to provide input and perspectives.

Summary of presentations.

Elizabeth McCartney – Museums Victoria

Elizabeth will be discussing Museums Victoria’s (MV) experience of managing the conservation of the State Collection during Melbourne’s prolonged 2020 lockdown. She will discuss the process and challenges of prioritising work, the strategies for dealing with changing levels of restricted access to MV’s sites, managing expectations and communicating the impact on work programs both within and outside MV, and the sometimes unexpected silver linings that came from the experience.

Rebekah Butler – Museums &Galleries Queensland.

This presentation will provide a broad overview of Museums & Galleries Queensland’s (M&G QLD) response to COVID-19 and how the organisation continues to support our state’s public museum and gallery sector through these challenging times. M&G QLD’s Executive Director, Rebekah Butler, will also discuss how the sector has modified its work practices to maintain connectivity with its audiences and community during the pandemic; its resilience; and touch on some of the ongoing challenges.

Prof Jane Henderson – Professor in Conservation at Cardiff University

This presentation aims to draw conclusions from the experience of caring and sharing collections under a pandemic. I will talk about how we have woven together strategies to adapt and grow, how we have revised our goals and plans become more pragmatic and more, how we’ve had to rethink our priorities but the pandemic has also created opportunities to start or complete previously impossible projects. We have tried to identify what is essential and how to respond when we lose things that we used to rely upon. For many in collections management the separation from their collections and the loss of an ability to control and manage the environment is barely mediated by the ability to monitor from afar. Nonetheless the lack of ability to connect to the physical objects is contrasted with the opportunities to connect with people not just in our own teams but around the world have put their energy into meaningful things into sharing ideas and into inspiring others. The pandemic has exposed that our resilience is no more neutral than the rest of our museum experience.

Thursday 18 November 2021


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Jane Henderson, Professor in Conservation at Cardiff University

Jane Henderson, BSc, MSc, PACR, FIIC, is a Professor of Conservation and the Secretary General International Institute for Conservation. Jane serves on the editorial panel of the Journal of the Institute for Conservation, is a co-opted member on the trustee board of the Welsh Federation of Museum and Art Galleries and is a visiting Researcher of the Scientific Conservation Institute in Beijing. Jane serves on the European standards body CEN TC 346 WG11 and on the BSI standard group B/560 concerned with the conservation of Tangible Cultural heritage.

Rebekah Butler

Rebekah Butler is the Executive Director of Museums & Galleries Queensland (M&G QLD), the peak professional body for Queensland’s public museum and gallery sector. She has over 20 years’ experience working in the sector, including as Director of the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, NSW, and Director of Umbrella Studio contemporary arts in Townsville, QLD. She has a Graduate Diploma of Arts (Art History and Curatorship) Australian National University, and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Major in Printmaking) Monash University. Rebekah has been Executive Director of M&G QLD since 2007.

Elizabeth McCartney

Elizabeth McCartney is the Manager of Conservation at Museums Victoria. She is responsible for the management of Conservation programs across Museums Victoria’s exhibition and storage sites, including Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum. Elizabeth holds a Masters in the Conservation of Cultural Materials, University of Melbourne and a Masters in the Principles of Conservation, University College, London.

Thank you to our Session Sponsor DataComIT