AIC 2009 in LA: Posters

P5200004There was a lot of talk this year about how we need to make poster content survive the conference.  The poster format itself would require a certain amount of technology to translate to the internet.  It might be easier to require posters to also be submitted in a web-friendly format, but posters are a lot of work as it is.  Still, the authors might appreciate a way for the their work to live on.  There were 37 posters this year. They were up for two days, and my attention was distracted by the coffee breaks, the vendors, and of course chatting with my colleagues.  I had to return to the poster area four times to gather notes for this blog, and my brain hurt each time…there is so much information packed in there so densely, it is simply not possible to blog about it very well.  I had intended to report anything of interest to ethnographic or archaeological conservators, but there was just no way I was going to pull that off.  Here are some of the titles I found interesting, and some of the content that I found thought-provoking.

The Role of Static Charge in Dirt Accumulation on Painted Surfaces

Jamie Abbott and Dr Gregory Dale Smith

Apparently, static is not a serious issue after all


University of Delaware Art Conservation Undergraduate Education 2.0

Vicki Cassman, Jae Gutierrez, and Debra Hess Norris

This was a good way to get the word out about changes to the program.  They no longer offer two concentrations (collections care and pre-program) but a single major called Material Culture Preservation.  An applied chemistry elective has also been added.  Stronger components of ethics and  practice have been added to the traditional three legged stool.  


Emerging Conservation Professionals Network: Emerging Conservators Using Emerging Technologies

Sherry DeFreece Emery, Laura Brill, and Anne M. Simon

Another example of using a poster to get the word out.  The group is aimed at students and conservators who have been practicing less than 5 years (although elsewhere I’ve heard the number was seven years?)  They look to use old and new technologies as well as a mentoring system.


A Cut Above: The Crayola Cutter as Conservation Tool

Lisa Conte, Lisa Nelson, Katherine Sanderson, and Eliza Spaulding

The Crayola Cutter is a toy, employing a pulsating electric stylus or needle to cut paper by perforating it.  The method was compared to tearing along a wet line and using a scalpel.  Can’t use it on a light table, and it can’t be on a hard surface…needs something like Volara behind it.  The original version was blue and yellow, and the newer one in purple and orange pulsates faster.  


African Beaded Objects: Characterizing Conservation Issues and Testing and Developing Cleaning Treatments

Maria Fusco, Stephen P. Mellor, and Robert J. Speakman

Study on this looks to be just getting underway, with the poster concentrating more on the findings of what kind of degradation they are seeing in which cultural groups.  They looked at 344 beaded objects and saw bead problems with 17% of them.  They chose 24 objects as the study set.  They are now trying to correlate chemical patterns to physical patterns they are seeing.  Saw a lot more deterioration on glass beads from Cameroonian cultures and the Ndebele from South Africa, but don’t have the data yet to begin explaining that.  Noted that on the Ndebele beads, more deterioration was seen on white, pink, and translucent beads than on other colors.  I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes next.

The Role of the Exhibitions Conservator in Touring Exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Laura Lipcsei

Super-dense with great lists of things to think of on a timeline when doing traveling exhibits.  Obviously, a lot of experience went into this one, and there were lots of areas indicated in bold where Laura could be contacted to provide copies of the documents and checklists they have developed.   

A Technical Analysis of Hopi Katchina Dolls at the Arizona State Museum

Meghan McFarlane

Using XRF, FTIR, Raman and Colorimetry.  Brighter whites and colors used after the 1930’s.  Largest change in pigments happened in the 1920’s and 30’s around the same time as the “action” style period begins.  Matte paint means less binder and the FTIR wasn’t sensitive enough to pick it up.


The Sampling of Archaeological Metals for Lead Isotope Analysis Using Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid-A “Minimally Destructive” Alternative

Vanessa Muros, Joseph Lehner, and Alma Bardho


Application of UV/VINR Digital Photography and Composite False-Color Imaging in Field Archaeological Conservation Investigations

Cuong Nguyen, Ioanna Kakoulli, Maria Cecilia Lozada

Looking more closely at surface soiling, bacterial deposits, burns and other features of human remains with non-invasive technology.

A Comparative Investigation of Lined Linen as a Book Covering Material

Dr. Melissa Tedone

I wasn’t so interested in this poster for its content but for the terrific hands-on samples that really took maximum advantage of the poster as a communication medium.  This would win my award for best poster.




















Aquazol as a Heat-Set Adhesive for Textile Conservation Treatments

Katherine Lechuga

Especially looking at taking advantage of the different properties of various molecular weights of Aquazol in treating shattered silk.  Seems like there was some success here, although a caveat that high humidity situations could prmote staining.  This poster would have been kicked up a notch with some hands-on attachments like the linen one?  The materials to do that might not have been available, though…


The Investigation of Cyclododecane’s Effect on Carbon-14 Dating of Archaeological Materials

Christine M. Pohl, Greg Hodgins, Robert J. Speakman, an Harriet F. Beaubien

Laboratory-grade cyclododecane seems to be OK!  Seems like the cleaning protocols to remove contaminants before typical Carbon-14 testing work fine for this too.


Fishing for an Alternative to the Traditional Source of Isinglass: Preliminary Investigations

Eileen Sullivan, James Hamm, and Dr. Aaron Shugar

As typical isinglass gets harder to come by, they are looking for alternatives.  Farm raised California white sturgeon might be a good replacement.  They describe the whole process of manufacture they followed, and testing viscosity, pH, solubility, gellation, colorimetry and FTIR.  Looks promising, but the chatter around the poster was, “Who is going to make this stuff?”


Mediating Community Relations through Art Conservation

Katelyn Uehling

Dealing with the University of Delaware and the community to conserve a mosaic monument to honor an Africa American community in Newark.


Technical Investigation of Shea Butter-Containing Forawa Vessels from Ghana

Sebastian K.T.S. Warmlander (sorry about the missing umlauts), David A. Scott, Vanessa Muros, Ellen Pearlstein, Alek Dooley, and Kym F. Faull

Investigated organo-metallic complexes between residual shea butter and copper or zinc ions of the vessels.


Remove it or Lose it!  Removal of the Forward and Aft Ballast Tank Pumps and Strategic PLanning for the Long-Term Preservation of the H.L. Hunley Submarine.

Chris Watters, Vincent Blouin, Typhaine Brocard, Paul Mardikian, Johanna Rivera, and Phillipe de Vivies

A scary maneuver had to be performed to get these parts out of the sub in order to treat them, since they were composite and needed to be taken apart.  But the team could not know for certain the exact way to disassemble them and how integral they were to the structural stability of the vessel.  Poster described how they dealt with those risks to successfully remove these parts.


One more thing…posters that included head shots or action shots where I could identify the authors were especially nice.  And double especially nice if they are at the conference and I wanted to chat with them.

6 Responses to AIC 2009 in LA: Posters

  1. Nancie Ravenel says:

    Thanks for another great synopsis, Ellen, and I admire your ability to take so much of the posters in. I certainly couldn’t. I was grateful for the posters that had hand-outs available – either a calling card or even the entire poster reproduced on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. The print on those sheets is small but legible, and I can look over the information now rather than having to digest it during the break with so much other activity going on.

    One poster that caught my eye was work by Elizabeth Nunan, Dan Kushel, and Gregory D. Smith comparing IR images obtained from a Kinamax “night vision” webcam with a filter vs. a Hamamatsu vidicon. While underdrawing images using reflected infrared and transmitted light might not be quite as apparent with the webcam as they are with the vidicon, the extraordinarily low price (about $30!) and the portability of the webcam makes it an interesting solution if funds aren’t available for other systems.

  2. […] event…. including one of the best synopsis of a poster session I’ve ever read entitled: ‘posters’, the hilarious ‘museum visits’ post that concentrates mostly on the varying draw of the […]

  3. Vanessa Muros says:

    Ellen, your blog posts continue to amaze me. Thanks for posting a synopsis of the posters, in addition to the OSG talks and your museum visits. Though I was at the conference, your posts let me catch up on things I missed or just let me revisit information I may not have taken in. Keep up the great work!

  4. Hi

    This is amazing! Thanks for your work enhancing the conference content. By the way, we are working on a way of capturing poster presentations for an online archive starting with next year’s AM. Right now we do keep the abstracts of past meetings at

  5. RichardMcCoy says:

    Glad to hear that, Brett. It occurs to me that many of the folks that made posters organized them on a computer. Perhaps you could ask them for their files?

  6. Paul Mardikian says:

    Dear Ellen– your comments are so useful. We will try to keep these in mind for the ICOM-CC Metal 2010 Conference in Charleston next year! My opinion is that we need to revamp/re-think and or even better, re-invent the poster concept! Thanks for your great work. Paul Mardikian

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