Fuelled by caffeine and fresh off the overnight bus, I made my way from Southern Cross Station to the 8th floor of the Melbourne Arts Centre, all red plush carpet and polished brass rails.
The AICCM 2019 National Conference: Making Conservation is the first conference I have attended in five years, and the first professional networking opportunity I have had in a couple of years. I was a student the last time I attended an AICCM conference, so I’m excited to have received a bursary to attend this one. I am rethinking my choice of transport, but the coffee is flowing and the food is very tasty, so I am fuelled for three days of information.
Each day of the conference has a theme: Making Conservation Connected; Making Conservation Sustainable; and Making Conservation Innovative. I was inspired by so many presentations, starting with Brett Leavy’s keynote presentation Virtual Songlines which showed an incredible, immersive use of technology.
The inventiveness and passion with which the presenters approached their subjects was motivating. There were some great examples of how people around the country and the world are using, accessing, and managing collections, and content. It was also great to see this feed into the push for sustainability and recognition of the complex needs of collection and information use and access. I found myself considering that many of the topics covered were on things I had considered, or discussed with my colleagues; like sustainability and use of chemicals, and different needs for access of collections, and how to consider inclusivity in the providing of access and interpretation requirements. It reinforced to me the feeling that we are all working together.
There were many faces I recognised and new people I met, and over the three days we talked through a variety of topics from collection management databases, treatments, study, research and passions. In the breaks, we further discuss hazard identification, time-based media, the use of technology, hand skills, soft skills, and professional development.
Even though I have the abstracts and supporting information, and I loved that there were filmed presentations from people who couldn’t be available in Melbourne; the biggest thing I took away from the conference was the value of regular connection opportunities. Being in the vicinity of so many of my colleagues really helped with the Making Conservation Connected aspect of the conference.
I am grateful to the AICCM for awarding me a bursary as I could not afford to attend otherwise. I heard so many great ideas from passionate people, and I felt reconnected to the profession, particularly having just spent a year working outside a conservation department. I found so much of the discussion relevant to my career path, and I left feeling inspired, and with ideas for ways I can work some of these topics into my own professional development and work practice moving forward. I also met a lot of new people, and the conference environment was perfect for this.