Despite this evolution in thinking about environmental guidelines, the ghost of ‘ideal conditions’ particularly 50% or 55% RH, remains implicitly if not explicitly in loan conditions, environmental targets, and policy.1
In my role as QAGOMA Head of Conservation & Registration I sign off on incoming loan agreements on a daily basis. In almost every agreement there are terms and conditions that refer to the maintenance of the conventional, narrow environmental conditions of 50 or 55% RH ±5 and 20 or 21ºC ±2. The ‘ideal conditions’ to which Taylor and Boersma refer, seem to me more a tyrant than ghost.
As the Coordinator of the Environmental Guidelines Project it is one thing to see through the ratification of the AICCM Environmental Guidelines for Australian Cultural Heritage Collections. However, lobbying for and implementing ground-level changes in industry practice that reference both AICCM’s environmental guidelines and the wider industry imperative to reduce environmental impacts is a huge challenge.
With this in mind the Heads of Conservation from the Queensland Art|Gallery of Modern Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, and National Gallery of Australia submitted to the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors a countersigned paper recommending the collective adoption of wider environmental guidelines for lending and borrowing. At the March 2019 meeting of CAAMD the members agreed to adopt the Bizot Green Protocol for loans. Since then a core group of Heads of Conservation have been working through a strategy to provide member organisations with a means of implementing institutional changes within a transparent and cooperative environment.
Representatives from all CAAMD member institutions have connected via an email group and are talking through specific issues and approaches to implementing changes to lending and borrowing practices, such as alterations to loan agreement terms and conditions, how to approach loans of sensitive and fragile material, and better understanding the role of consultation as an essential part of negotiating a loan.
This is a work in progress and a presentation on this CAAMD initiative will be given at the forthcoming national conference ‘Making Conservation’.
- 1. Joel Taylor and Foekje Boersma (2018) ‘Managing Environments for Collections: The Impact of International Loans on Sustainable Climate Strategies’, Studies in Conservation, vol 63: sup 1, pp. 257–261.