The aim of conservation is to make cultural heritage accessible today and into the future. If it is to effectively carry out this task into the coming decades, centuries and perhaps even millennia, it must do so with greater awareness of the economic, environmental and social impact of practice.

The AICCM Sustainable Collections Committee (SCC) was established in 2016 following the amalgamation of a number of Taskforce and Committees. The key objective of the SCC is to collate and disseminate research and data relating to issues of collections sustainability on behalf of National Council and develop policies and guidelines that will ensure the relevance of conservation practice in a world with finite resources and increased stake-holder interest.

This includes:

  1. Progressing knowledge of sustainability issues within the profession through the collation of relevant articles and projects.
  2. Developing policies and guidelines on behalf of the AICCM National Council to guide conservation and industry practice as it relates to economic, social and environmental sustainability.
  3. Promoting a risk management and foresight approach in the allocation of resources for heritage and materials preservation.
  4. Establishing and fostering collaborative working relationships with industry colleagues engaged with sustainability programs.

Key tasks of the SCC over the coming year will include:

  • The Environmental Guidelines Project.
  • Developing the AICCM wiki resource to collate publications and case studies relating to: Allocation of conservation resources; Greening conservation practice (chemical usage, transport and packing); Collection environments (passive design, temp and RH, lighting); Disaster Planning; and community access and engagement.
  • In partnership with the Preventive SIG, plan a program of collection care events

Environmental Guidelines Project

The museum industry is still struggling with change, as sustainable and affordable collection management practices emerge as a leading priority for collecting organisations. In recognition of this ICOM-CC and IIC published in 2014 the joint statement, Declaration on Environmental Guidelines. The AICCM Interim Temperature and Relative Humidity Guidelines for storage and display conditions was included as one of three appendices, the other two authored by the Bizot Group and AIC. Three years on, the joint declaration and its pronouncements on environmental conditions were further discussed and debated at the 2017 ICOM-CC conference in Copenhagen. While this ongoing conversation within the profession reflects community interest, it also demonstrates the complexity of establishing environmental parameters suitable for a variety of mixed collections and museum activities.

In recognition of this AICCM is continuing to work to define a position for the profession in Australia, and the Environmental Guidelines Project (EGP), led by a sub-group of the Sustainable Collections Committee, has commenced.

The project has five distinct aims:

  1. To capture a picture of current museum environment practice being carried out by,
    1. Australia’s major commonwealth and state collecting and lending institutions,
    2. The wider community of smaller state and local collecting organisations.
    3. To review and integrate the Heritage Collections Council Guidelines for Environmental Control in Cultural Institutions (2002) and the AICCM Interim Temperature and Relative Humidity Guidelines for storage and display conditions (2014) within the context of current museum climate and material science research and knowledge.
    4. To develop a collaborative platform for the Australian museum industry to participate in the development of museum climate resources that are relevant for different types of collecting organisations and fit for purpose across the range of museum activities.
    5. To develop a range of guidelines and resources that will provide national, state and local museums with tools to facilitate the transition from historical environmental set-points to safe and sustainable alternate environmental controls (from mechanical through to passive), reflecting location, climatic conditions, and fit for purpose best-practice.
    6. To seek endorsement of the AICCM Environmental Guidelines and resources by a range of national organisations such as Council of Australian Museum Directors (CAMD), Cultural Ministers Council, and Museums Galleries Australia (MGA).

A detailed project methodology is published on the AICCM wiki on the Environmental Guidelines page. The convenor of the EGP is seeking expressions of interest from the membership to participate in the project. Representatives from each state are being sort to help facilitate communication and involvement of the membership in the state in which they reside.

If you are interested in being a state representative or assisting with the Environmental Guidelines Project, please contact Amanda Pagliarino, EGP Co-ordinator.

If you are interested in assisting with the development of the AICCM Sustainable Collections Wiki, please contact MaryJo Lelyveld, SCC Chair.