Inspired partially by Daniel Cull’s article about Conservationists, and my mother, who has been an active participant in sustainability (she began recycling in the 1970’s), I have decided to study environmental management and sustainability for my preventive conservation independent study. I am going to use my blog to offer conservators more information about my study, and to open a discussion about the project.
Art Conservators are feeling the push to become more ‘green’. While their first concern is to provide a safe environment for collections, it is also important to work within a reasonable budget. If modifications can be made to an environmental management system that do not place objects in danger and will use fewer resources and require less funding then it is in the interest of conservators to be involved in such projects.
In the past few years there have been many conferences and discussions about the relationship between heritage management and environmental sustainability. The Getty’s: Climate change and preserving cultural heritage in the 21st Century is a good starting dialogue, focused mainly on the carbon footprint created by construction and how re-using buildings (here is where preservationists come in) can be what helps us to mitigate global warming.
The beginnings of my research found the 1978 book In Search of the Black Box by the Royal Ontario Museum. The book mentions the oil crisis of the 1970’s which led my research down a new path. If I could contact conservators and building managers who were working in the heritage sector during the 1970’s, I could ask them about how they cut back on their energy usage during the oil crisis of 1973 and the energy crisis of 1979.
Speaking to a building manager who was working during the energy rationing of the 1970’s, he said since they had to turn off systems at night, it meant during the day the systems were running constantly and this wasn’t saving any energy. This is great information because I am interested in finding out what has worked and what has failed. Discussing failures can be interesting and innovative in the same way as having success.