Image: Manitoba Museum, 2018

Conference Program

Proposed Timeline

January 2024 – edited abstract drafts sent to authors before translation
February 2024 – recording of presentations
March 1, 2024 – deadline for presentation recordings and transcript submission
May 1, 2024 – final poster PDFs deadline
June 2024 – Conference

Abstract Submission Guidelines

  • Abstracts are due October 31, 2023.
  • Presentation Format: Short, Full, and Posters
    • ‘Short’ papers, if selected, will be granted a 5-minute presentation slot.
    • ‘Full’ papers, if selected, will be granted a 20-minute presentation slot.
    • ‘Poster’ if selected, will be displayed online as a PDF
  • Presentation Language
    • Presentations may be given in English, French, or both English and French.
  • Abstract
  • Upload a copy of your abstract using the online submission form.
    • Abstract text should be 400 words or less (not including title or author names).
    • Font: Calibri, size 11.
    • Spacing: single-line, left-justified.
    • Include in the upload your title (in bold) and author name(s) with their affiliation(s) (in Italic).
    • Language: Text can be submitted in English or French, or both.
    • File Name: 2024[last name of primary author][presentation format]
      • example: 2024GuldbeckPoster
  • Keywords
    • List three (3) keywords to highlight the key themes of the presentation.
  • Biographical Statement
    • Please include the biographical statement of the primary presenter(s).
    • Maximum of 90 words per biographical statement.

The Program Committee will not review incomplete abstract proposals. Please note that speakers and poster presenters are not compensated and must register for the conference (single-day registration will be available).

Submissions can be made through the submission portal.

Conference Proceedings

  • Papers will be presented virtually. Recordings of the presentations will be available to conference attendees for a period following the conference. It may be necessary to pre-record your presentation. More information will be provided after acceptance.
  • All selected presenters may have to submit a full transcript of their presentation in advance to assist with translation and closed-captioning during the conference.

Proposed Timeline

  • October 31, 2023 – abstract deadline
  • December 2023 – notifications will be sent to authors, and preliminary program finalized
  • January 2024 – edited abstract drafts sent to authors before translation
  • February 2024 – full presentation transcripts due for translation
  • March 1, 2024 – program finalized and abstracts available on CAC website
  • May 1, 2024 – final poster PDFs deadline, deadline for recordings
  • June 2024 – Conference

Preliminary Program
49th Annual CAC Conference and Workshops
Keeping it Real: Conservation in Practice
June 6-7 and 13-14, 2024

NOTE: This schedule is subject to change.
Bold denotes a 20-minute presentation
* denotes primary presenter

Day 1
Thursday, June 6, 2024
12:00 pm – 4:00 EDT

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Session 1: Project Management

Conservation strategies and project management for a large costume exhibition
Caterina Florio & Sonia Kata

Real Tough Questions: A Decision-Making Framework for Large-Scale Public Art Conservation Projects
Sophia Zweifel

Big Picture ‘Before and After’: How Flexibility and Adaptability are Key in Fulfilling Major Conservation Projects
Emily Ricketts & Oliva Claridge


Session 2: Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Numériser pour conserver : C’est (presque) jouer à la poupée!
Lorie-Anne Chamberland

DIY lab tests for treatment decision-making
Anne-Stéphanie Etienne*, Tiffany Eng Moore, Eric Hagan

The Conservation of a Once-Kinetic 1970s Artwork by Kiyoji Otsuji
James Hughes


Session 3: Advocacy

#itwasboundtohappen Reflections on the specialism of book conservation in Australia during the COVID-19 Pandemic (and into 2023)
Camielle Fitzmaurice & Freya O’Connor

Modern Materials in Books: An Exploratory Research Project
Christine McNair


Day 2
Friday, June 7, 2024
12:00 pm – 4:00 EDT

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Session 4: Documentation & Display

Thinking Beyond the Frame: Installation Case Studies of Contemporary Works on Paper and Photographs
Kaslyne O’Connor, Marie Ève Gaudreau Lamarre, Christophe Vischi & Ainsley Walton

Reviving the “real” splendour of a Tudor lady costume: a collaborative approach to conservation and mount making
Camille Lafrance & Amelia Desjardins

Colours of wooden fillers: a risk assessment
Anne-Stéphanie Etienne*, Robin Langmuir & Eric Hagen

Shining a light on the everyday: Developing display strategies for vernacular photography through scientific collaboration at the Museum of Modern Art
Kyna Biggs*, Abed Haddad, Lee Ann Daffner, Annie Wilker, Oluremi Onabanjo & Antoinette Roberts


Panel Discussion: Collaboration and Care: Working with Indigenous Artists and Contemporary Art
Panelists: TBC
Indigenous art is thriving and Indigenous artists are reshaping our cultural landscape. The CAC’s
(Re)Conciliation Working Group presents a moderated panel discussion with Indigenous Artists,
Indigenous curators and conservators on the unique opportunities for relationship-building, learning
and change presented by collaboration.


Day 3
Thursday, June 13, 2024
12:00 pm – 4:00 EDT

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Session 5: Paintings

J.E.H. MacDonald Up Close: The Artist’s Materials and Techniques
Kate Helwig & Alison Douglas

Rethinking old methods for modern issues: Treatment of Marion Nicoll’s East from the Mountains
Emily Min-Mander

Analysis and Conservation of a Varnish Exhibiting Intentional Craquelure
Elizabeth Jablonski, Stephanie Barnes & Margaret Veall

A Guide for the Practical Application of Pigmented Wax-Resin
Liz Hébert


Session 6: Analytical Techniques

Corrosion of steel artifacts in relation to the influence of waterlogged archaeological wood: A study of nails from various shipwrecks excavated by the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk
Dagmara Bojar

Analysis and Conservation of The John Buttrey Manuscript
Tiffany Eng Moore

The suitability of 3M Vetrap for long-term use with heritage objects
Mark Kearney


Session 7: Ideas & Insights

Creating a Custom Map Cart
Bronwen Glover & Saman Goudarzi

Aluminum Screen Printing Screens: Tips and Tricks for Use as Float Washing Rigid Supports
Crystal Maitland

Spice Up Your PEG: The Utilization of PEG in Waterlogged Cinnamon Sticks
Ariel McIntyre

Solvent and adhesive tests on BlackBond aluminium composite board
Chloé Lucas



Day 4
Friday, June 14, 2024
12:00 pm – 4:00 EDT

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Session 8: Managing Collections

Control or influence in linking risk analysis with risk management
Moya Dumville & Robert Waller

Nothing less than 100% – Realistically surveying for project management
Meagen Smith

1000 artifacts and counting: Managing asbestos during a large-scale collections move
Jacqueline Riddle & Skye Marshall

Evidence of the machinery of preservation at the Yukon Archives
Rob Ridgen


Session 9: Treating Books

Case Study of the Treatment of a 17th Century Herbal with a Damaged Spine
Bronwen Glover

Balancing conservation constraints: The example of two 16th century books at the University of Cambridge, UK
Mito Matsumaru

Binding the unbound: A Complex Treatment of Treaty 11
Manise Young


Closing remarks

‘’D’une pierre deux coups’’ : le même support interne pour l’exposition et l’entreposage de vêtements faits de matière synthétique et autres recommandations pour leur entreposage !
Caroline Bourgeois

Plastics BINGO!: Identifying Plastics in the Collections of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
James Hughes

Artistic experiments with industrial paints: a case study on the conservation and restoration of nitrocellulose painting
Kinga Klemiska

Removal of Photographs Long Adhered to Glass: A Case Study from the Byng Boys Club Collection at the New Brunswick Museum
Dee Stubbs-Lee

BRRRR – Freeze Drying Waterlogged Wooden Material For Conservation Using The Canadian Winter To Reduce Energy Consumption
Michael K. Lewis

2021 Preliminary Program

COVID-19 Impact Survey Panel and Discussion, CAC Board of Directors

The CAC Advocacy Committee Introduces its Education Programming Resources


Architectural Characterization of The Laser Cleaning Effects on Sandstone from The Canadian Parliament Buildings Yuan Hu

20 Years of Progress: Overview of the H. L. Hunley Submarine Conservation Project Gyllian Porteous


Fish oil in alkyd paint and its possible connection with efflorescence on Claes Oldenburg’s “Ice Cream Soda with Cookie” Sjoukje van der Laan

Uncovering Kathleen Munn: Interdisciplinary collaboration in conservation research Stephanie Barnes

SHORT PAPER A brief summary of the professional development workshop on the acrylic mist-lining technique given at the SRAL in Maastricht Marie-Hélène Nadeau


Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage Lisa Elkin and Rob Waller

Metamorphosis: Moving, Rehousing, and Transforming Access Potential for the Royal Saskatchewan Museum’s Indigenous Studies Collection Victoria Kablys and Emilie Demers

Putting Plastics in Their Place Alison Fleming

Let me be Crystal Clear: Conservation in the Culture of Confidence Mauray Toutloff and Heidi Swierenga

Session 3 Q&A


Applying social discounting to cultural property risk analysis Robert Waller

It’s Not Always the Toaster Oven: Lessons Learned from a ‘Best Case Scenario’ Vault Fire Adriane VanSeggelen

SHORT PAPER The Conservator’s Role in Positive Decision-Making: Evidencing the Benefits of Original Artifacts Hilary Wight and Dr. Neil Coleman

Assessing risk using voting apps with stakeholders and experts: the case of the Hamilton and Scourge Stefan Michalski and Irene Karsten

Session 4 Q&A


How Do We Assess Mould Levels? Part II – Conceptual tools to help decide “how clean is clean enough”? Tiffany Eng Moore and Crystal Maitland

An Investigation of the Susceptibility of Acrylic Emulsion Paints to Biodeterioration: Research into the Treatment of Mould on Modern Paints Kyna Biggs*, Alison Murray, and Patricia Smithen

Disinfection of photographic materials with ethanol vapours: Evaluation of the innocuity on chromogenic prints Chloé Lucas

Session 5 Q&A

“Cluttered by Ghosts”: The Post-Excavation Biography of the “Mummy from the Coffin of Takhat” Charlotte Parent

SHORT PAPER Seeing the Trees for the Forest: new wood identification methods at the Smithsonian Institution Julia Campbell-Such

SHORT PAPER Technical Investigation of Materials Used in a Mid-Nineteenth-Century Berlin Work Needlepainting Reproduction of Horace Vernet’s Raphael at the Vatican Marianne LeBel

And There Was Light: Restoring the Notman & Son Neon Sign Sonia Kata

Session 6 Q&A

The Identification and Conservation Treatment Planning of a Third-Intermediate White-Type Coffin; Phase 1
Kaoru Yui, Alison Murray, Emy Kim

Three Case Studies for Mould Treatments in Book Conservation
Bronwen Glover, Tiffany Eng Moore, Christine McNair

Instructions: A Visual Glossary of Six Stages of Nitrate Film Base Deterioration
Tania Passafiume, Elspeth Jordan

Day 1: Tuesday, May 25, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Sophia Zweifel

The Advocacy Committee has been working to develop a series of education programming resources, consisting of conservation-related lesson plans and activities that compliment the education curricula of different grade levels. These resources will be made available to CAC membership to support and encourage conservation programming initiatives within their respective institutions and communities.

The lesson and activity plans are designed to give members programming ideas that will introduce conservation to a variety of age groups while integrating learning outcomes found in K-12 curricula throughout Canada. Conservation theory and practice is full of captivating and versatile subject matter that can enrich learning in both the arts and sciences. Incorporating conservation material into programming initiatives not only supplements student learning, but is also an opportunity to introduce kids of diverse backgrounds to careers in heritage. This short talk will introduce the lesson plans that will be made available, and hopefully inspire members to seek out opportunities to engage with students in their regions.

Gyllian Porteaous, Vice President
Chloè Lucas, Strategic Alliance Liaison Councillor

The Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (CAC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators (CAPC) present a summary of the data collected from conservation professionals regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives and careers. Three surveys were distributed in May 2020, October 2020, and January 2021. Key findings are outlined and strategies for responding to the effects of the pandemic in Canada will be discussed.


Yuan Hu*, Queen’s University (student)
Alison Murray, Queen’s University
David Edgar, David Edgar Conservation Ltd.
Phil White, Dominion Sculptor, Science and Parliamentary Infrastructure Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Laser cleaning has been used in the rehabilitation and conservation program of the Canadian Parliament Buildings in order to remove the black crust on sandstone surfaces. This study was carried out to characterize the effect of laser cleaning on sandstone from these buildings. Two kinds of sandstone samples, Berea/Ohio sandstone and Nepean sandstone, were taken from the West Block of the Parliament Buildings for testing. The characteristics of the sandstone and the black crust were studied using polarized-light microscopy, x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). The results showed that the black crust was a very thin layer covering the quartz grains and also filling the gaps between the quartz grains on the surface of the sandstone. The characteristic elements of the black crust were sulfur, calcium, iron, and lead. Copper and chlorine were detected in some samples. Gypsum in the black crust was confirmed with back-scattered electron (BSE) images. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy results indicated that the organic materials of the black crust contained hydrocarbon oil. The surface morphology and elemental composition before and after laser cleaning were studied by microscopy, XRF, and SEM-EDS. The results of various laser-cleaning systems were discussed in terms of cleaning effectiveness and damage to the sandstone. The results showed that the black crust on the Berea/Ohio sandstone and the Nepean sandstone can be removed by using the LaserArt-100 Cleaning System, the main focus of the study, but that residues of the black crust were still found on the cleaned surface and caused the colour of cleaned surface to be darker than the fresh sandstone surface. Gypsum crystals were also identified on the cleaned surfaces. XRF and SEM-EDS results indicated that the characteristic elements of the black crust still existed in the residues. No direct damage was found on the cleaned surface. The results of the RILEM tests showed the water absorption rate of the cleaned Berea/Ohio sandstone was increased significantly after laser cleaning. There was no absorption of water measured on the surface of the black crust and only a small amount of water absorption for the cleaned Nepean sandstone. Laser cleaning with the appropriate parameters avoided over-cleaning, removed much of the black crust, and increased the water absorption capabilities of the sandstone.

Gyllian C Porteous,* Warren Lasch Conservation Center
Anna Funke, Warren Lasch Conservation Center
Johanna Rivera-Diaz, Warren Lasch Conservation Center

Lost February 17th, 1864, the H. L. Hunley submarine emerged from the ocean after 136 years on August 8th, 2000. Since its raising, the preservation and conservation of the Confederate-made submarine has been the responsibility of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at Clemson University (WLCC). At 40 feet in length and containing over 1,500 artifacts, the submarine presented numerous challenges that required innovative solutions to assure its long-term survival. This paper will explain the major phases of the H. L. Hunley’s treatment, outlining developments in maritime conservation research made by the WLCC as well as the interdisciplinary relationships formed throughout the project. From the creation of the submarine’s 75,000-gallon treatment tank, to the rotation of the submarine into an upright position, to its cathodic protection system, conservators at the WLCC have consulted with experts in engineering and materials science. This paper will conclude with a discussion of the treatment phases to come, namely the completion of desalination, followed by the rinsing and drying of the submarine, and the significant hurdles still to be surmounted.


Sjoukje van der Laan*, Art Gallery of Ontario
Jennifer Poulin, Canadian Conservation Institute

Ice Cream Soda and Cookie (1963) by Claes Oldenburg came into the collection of Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 2011. The artwork is a life-size sculpture consisting of alkyd paint on plaster and glass (the ice cream soda and the cookie), a stainless steel spoon, a paper napkin, a ceramic plate and a painted tray. While examining the artwork in 2017 for an exhibition in one of the AGO’s contemporary art galleries, conservators found a noticeable white crystalline efflorescence visible in some areas of the light and dark brown painted elements of the object, especially on the cookie and plaster straw that is part of the ice cream soda. In an attempt to find a possible explanation for this phenomenon, samples were taken of the crystalline efflorescence as well as of the paint from the cookie and the straw, and were sent for analysis to the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI).

Analysis of the crystalline efflorescence, binding media, and pigments and fillers was performed using pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), Raman spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction (XRD). The analysis of the binding media of the dark and light brown paint samples using Py-GC-MS brought especially interesting outcomes. Both paint samples were found to be oil-modified alkyds, based on ortho-phthalic acid, pentaerythritol and heated fish oil. Fish oil has been commonly used in the formulation of alkyd paints since the first half of the 20th-century. However, fish oil does not cure as well as plant-based drying oils, having a higher relative abundance of free fatty acids and saturated triglycerides. Analysis of the crystalline efflorescence found that it was composed of free fatty acids, mainly of palmitic acid and stearic acid. It is very probable that the formation of efflorescence on Ice Cream Soda and Cookie was related to the use of fish oil alkyds. The dark brown paint was pigmented with hematite, maghemite and traces of titanium dioxide. Goethite pigment was identified in the light brown paint. So far, it is unclear why the efflorescence especially appeared on these two colours.

Despite the efflorescence and some localized minor losses, the artwork was furthermore in good condition. After several discussions, a decision was made to remove the efflorescence prior to the installation of the artwork in the AGO’s gallery space. Most of the efflorescence could be removed with a soft brush and slight mechanical action. Additionally, the surface was cleaned with Stoddard Solvent (18% aromatics) to remove any remaining efflorescence. Currently, Ice Cream Soda and Cookie is on display and monitored, but after almost two years on display there is no indication of ‘new’ efflorescence.

Stephanie Barnes, Canadian Conservation Institute

Artist Kathleen Munn (1887-1974) existed on the margins of Toronto’s conservative art scene during her lifetime. A dedicated student, she immersed herself in the international modern art movements of New York and Europe, in the 1910s and 1920s, experimenting with colour and form, and developing her own systematic drawing style. Once overlooked, she is celebrated today as a pioneer of modern art in Canada. The AGO purchased drawings from Munn’s Passion series in 1945. These were the only works Munn sold to a public institution, and among only a handful collected during her lifetime. Munn’s work emerged into the public consciousness in the late 1980s with York University’s exhibition New Perspectives on Modernism in Canada. Over the last two decades, the AGO’s collection of works by Munn has grown to include 11 paintings, 11 accessioned prints and drawings, over 2,200 pages of archival material, including prints, drawings, and ephemera, 9 notebooks, a paintbox with over 50 tubes of paint, and a custom light box. This rich concentration of information makes the AGO the primary centre for research on Kathleen Munn. Munn’s family donated the bulk of the archival material in 2005, and the collection greatly expanded again in 2018/2019, thanks to the donation of 13 paintings and works on paper. This most recent donation sparked a collaborative research project between AGO conservators, curators, and archives, with scientific support from the Canadian Conservation Institute. Starting fall 2018, as part of a Koerner fellowship in painting conservation, 16 paintings by Munn, including 3 from public collections and 2 from private collections outside the AGO, have been examined and photographed. This presentation will summarize some of the research and treatment carried out, share discoveries made about Munn’s unique working processes, and discuss the collaboration that made it possible.

Marie-Hélène Nadeau, Canadian Conservation Institute

Since 2018, the Getty Foundation has funded an initiative bringing together a variety of projects whose aim is to examine current practices in the area of structural treatments for paintings on canvas. These projects also make it possible to develop and put into practice the necessary skills for performing structural treatments. One of these projects was about teaching the acrylic mist-lining technique. This technique consists of preparing the auxiliary fabric support by raising a few fibres from each thread by going over them lightly with sandpaper. A mix of acrylic adhesives is then prepared and misted onto the lifted fibres in order to deposit it into their structure. The adhesive is then left to dry until the following day, to then be reactivated with a solvent once the paint is in place. Lastly, the lining is done in a pressure envelope.

The lining technique was taught to a group of mid-career painting conservators from different countries. The presentation will give a broad overview of the lining technique. The workshop’s visual documentation will provide visual support for this report. I address the resources for finding complementary information about the execution of the lining technique. I also discuss certain experiments attempted on a range of material options, a process that overall provided useful results. It is important to note that the technique has not yet been used at the CCI laboratories at the time of this writing.

The training took place from March to July 2019 in two parts, first theory and then practice. The sixteen participants met for a first week in Maastricht at SRAL (Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg) to learn about the theory behind the technique. Afterward, participants returned to SRAL, where, split into four groups, they consolidated their knowledge about the lining technique. The groups were assembled in such a way as to bring together conservators facing similar issues in their work.

The workshop’s success was made possible thanks to the contributions of several subject matter specialists: Kate Seymour and Jos van Och, assisted by Bascha Stabik and Joanna Strombek of SRAL, as well as various guest lecturers. The international representation among participants also made for rich discussions on the various techniques practiced in our respective laboratories and countries. Finally, the time provided for learning not only helped us solidify our understanding of the lining technique, but also allowed us to gain significant practical experience.

Day 2: Wednesday, May 26, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET


Lisa Elkin, American Museum of Natural History
Robert Waller, Protect Heritage Corp.

The field of preventive conservation has evolved significantly over the past 25 years. An opportunity to update, revise, and expand the classic 1995 Storage of Natural History Collections: A Preventive Conservation Approach provided a first-hand opportunity to survey what has been accomplished in the field to this point, evaluate where we currently stand and project what we can expect going forward. This presentation provides an overview of the contents of the recently published book: Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage published by a consortium of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the American Institute for Conservation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum Study Program at George Washington University.

Topics include: Fundamentals of Collection Storage, Assessment and Planning, Creating and Renovating Storage Facilities, Facility Management, Specialized Collection Environments and Care, Storage Equipment and Materials, and Storage at a Glance. The last segment, Storage at a Glance, conveys variability in vulnerability to a set of agents of change between and among different ‘kinds of collections’. While the book covers a wide range of collections including science, fine and decorative art, history, library, and archives, all from a risk-management perspective, ‘kinds of collections’ are based on material types, such as textiles, paper, and glass.

Victoria Kablys*, Royal Saskatchewan Museum
Emilie Demers*
Holly Aubichon
Alexander Ranger

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) is a significant the provincial institution responsible for the care and study of materials related to Saskatchewan’s natural and cultural history. With upwards of three million objects related to the province’s Indigenous cultures, the RSM’s Indigenous Studies Collection is comprised of a diverse range of archaeological, ethnographic, and sacred materials. In 1985, the Museum’s collections were moved across the street from the RSM into a provincial heritage building as a temporary, five-year solution. Thirty-five years later, the collections remain in the same building and are held in suboptimal adapted housings and spaces.

With the support of a Department of Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program (MAP) Grant, the RSM team endeavoured to improve the standard of care for the Indigenous Studies Ethnology and Sacred Collections. These collections were housed in a collection space internally referred to as the ‘Indigenous Studies Cocoon,’ which required concerted effort to address a series of problems that impacted the collections’ preservation and access potential. The issues were numerous: past inventories performed on the collection were only partially executed; objects and storage furniture were labelled with often illegible penmanship and multiple obsolete numbering systems; objects were stacked, folded and stored in a manner that put their stability at risk; storage furniture used to house collections was actively deteriorating and was nearly impossible to adjust; and the space was laid out so poorly that moving objects required risky maneuvers.

In order to execute the project in a systematic and efficient matter, creative processes were developed to address the needs of this diverse collection. The main goal of the project was to improve collections care standards to facilitate both immediate and long-term access and use, without compromising the collections’ preservation. The team’s aims were ambitious: executing a comprehensive inventory and conservation assessment for all objects; safe temporary relocation of all collection items; removal of unsuitable storage systems, reorganization of existing storage systems; installation of new storage systems; rehousing of objects; and reinstallation of objects in their new more suitable collection space. This presentation will share the RSM team’s strategy for developing a plan to reorganize and reimagine the Indigenous Studies Cocoon, in addition to a discussion of the team’s successes, failures, obstacles encountered, and all the sub-projects identified as a result.

Alison Fleming, Royal Alberta Museum

In 2018, the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) began a project to identify and segregate the malignant plastics in its collections in order to move them to cool storage, concentrating primarily on artifacts made from cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, rubber, polyurethane, and polyvinyl chloride. This paper highlights the procedures that the museum is using to locate, identify and rehouse malignant plastic artifacts that are stored – and sometimes hidden – in our sizable mixed collections. During a general preliminary collection-wide survey, plastics were found in cabinets and drawers where we did not initially anticipate having any, and later, many of these were identified as malignant. We also encountered objects exhibiting degrees of visible degradation ranging from none at all to, at the other extreme, crumbling or sticky with plasticizer. In addition to discussing how malignant plastics were identified and re-housed, the presentation will look at which types of artifacts were prioritized for cool storage, and how RAM conservators dealt with composite objects.

Mauray Toutloff* and Heidi Swierenga, Museum of Anthropology

In 2010 the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) opened the “Multiversity Gallery” – a 15,000 square foot visible storage installation that showcases over 9,000 belongings from around the world. One of the highlights of this new exhibit space is over 1000 linear feet of floor to ceiling, state-of-the art museum cases which were custom designed in collaboration with MOA’s exhibit team. The Conservation Department was involved in the process of Oddy testing and approving some of the materials used in the construction of the cases. Within three years of installation, a sticky film began to develop on the interior surfaces of the case glass. Consultation with Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) led to the implementation of a specialized cleaning protocol to remove the buildup. This labour-intensive cleaning campaign continued over two years and the issue was abated until the spring of 2019 when the hazing had again become visible. More troubling was the discovery of sparkly crystalline deposits on several museum objects in cases. Communication with other institutions has revealed that MOA is not alone in this issue. This paper will look at several issues surrounding MOA’s case contamination project including the limitations of Oddy testing to project the deleterious interaction of materials over time and the critical need for open and collaborative communication within the conservation community.


Robert Waller, Protect Heritage Corp.

The aspirational goal of heritage preservation is to maintain a cultural property in excellent condition indefinitely. Risk analysis contributes to this goal by: structuring comprehensive risk identification; clear risk definition; and risk quantification, or at least semi-quantified ranking of risks. Of course, an aspirational goal that includes the concept “indefinitely” defies quantification. The preservation goal must be rendered operational. The heritage management field has either ignored this fact completely, leading to non-rational quantification, or defined preservation horizons, usually arbitrarily and commonly 100, 200, or 500 years. An optimal approach for quantification would apply a social discount rate to calculate the net present value of future preservation. Although this is not difficult to do for focused analysis of a limited set of risks, it has proven difficult to employ estimates of risk magnitudes for initial ranking and screening purposes. Future discounting is difficult to grasp intuitively while contemplating other risk factors. Although not ideal, a simple model giving full weight to every preservation year up to 100 years then zero weight to later years, approximates a social discount rate of 1%. Such a low discount rate is considered appropriately conservative for society’s commitment to heritage preservation.

Adriane VanSeggelen, Archives of Ontario

On Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 around 1:30 pm the fire alarm at the Archives of Ontario went off. A particulate alarm had been triggered in a third-floor vault, visible flames had been spotted by security staff, and confirmation that a mist sprinkler head had been deployed. Conservator Adriane VanSeggelen liaised with management present to activate the Collections Emergency Response and Recovery Plan (CERRP). Once fire services arrived, they were able to successfully extinguish the fire. VanSeggelen and Dee Psaila, Manager of Special Projects who acts as the Collections Recovery Lead, discussed their action plan while awaiting first access.

Building management secured a disaster management company for the vault repairs, who were on scene the evening of the 23rd. A disaster management company for the collection was secured by the evening of the 24th with the items frozen and then air-dried. Unprocessed boxes were labelled and inventoried and all collection items were scanned out. Fragile items were air-dried in the Preservation Lab and Art Prep Room, with fans and de-humidifiers. The impacted vaults were returned to full operation by the end of the next week, and the collection items dried off-site were returned in March 2019. Final re-boxing was completed by the fall of 2019. Full environmental control was maintained throughout the disaster and recovery phases, except where purposefully turned off during the repair work.

This paper will look at the practical lessons learned from a ‘best case scenario’ fire, at an institution fortunate to have a robust Collections Emergency Response and Recovery Plan and fire detection and suppression infrastructure. It will outline things that worked well, gaps in our planning, factors that had not been considered, and what disaster supplies were most effective (compared to what we had on hand).

Hilary E Wight*, Fleming College
Dr. Neil Coleman

At the heart of museum practice is the challenge of balancing the public display of artifacts with their preservation. As museums shift towards greater immersion and interactivity, whether directly (such as visitors handling an artifact) or indirectly (such as an artifact on display in less than ideal conditions), the risks to artifacts increase. The decisions regarding the use of original artifacts in exhibits are made on the basis of these factors. We have an ever increasing quantity of data regarding the potential risks facing an artifact, and how to combat them. Preventive conservation guidelines, risk assessments, and other sources of information provide clear quantitative and qualitative data to measure the level of risk. However, in order to make an informed decision about whether to use an artifact or an alternative, we must also consider the benefits of original artifacts. In our talk we focus on how this ‘positive’ data might be acquired. We emphasize the need for informed decision-making, highlighting various factors (e.g. educational and participatory) that might emerge as part of this data, and how these factors are readily amenable to rigorous study. We note that such studies will of necessity be interdisciplinary in nature, involving a mixed bag of curators, programmers, psychologists, and, of course, conservators. The conservators must play an integral part in such investigations, their role being of both practical and theoretical significance. We will outline our recent experimental work as a case study, in which we investigated the relationship between artifacts, replicas, and learning. Specifically, we considered one aspect of learning, that of semantic memory. Intuitively, it feels that having an original artifact (rather than a replica) will result in the museum visitor remembering more about the artifact in question, or the display as a whole. While our work is still in its infancy, our objective with this case study is to lay the groundwork for generalized cases and more significant studies further down the road, and to encourage the use of rigorous psychological data in museum decision-making. We also seek to emphasize the conservator’s role in such studies, highlighting once more the practical and theoretical tasks of the conservator.

Stefan Michalski
Irene Karsten, Canadian Conservation Institute

Since 1980, the City of Hamilton has been the owner and manager of two War of 1812 schooners, the Hamilton and Scourge, that sank in Lake Ontario in 1813. Their state of preservation has been studied by Parks Canada, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), and external consultants. Although numerous experts and stakeholders had voiced varying opinions on future risks, City staff still needed to create a management plan for effective, sustainable preservation of the vessels. In 2012, the City approached CCI for assistance in prioritizing project work through risk assessment. CCI decided that a useful risk assessment could be achieved by capturing the judgements of stakeholders and experts, on each identified risk – both the rate at which the damage would occur, and the relative loss of value that would occur. A one-day meeting was scheduled for this purpose at Dundurn Castle Coach House, Hamilton.

Prior to the meeting, three questions were sent to participants: What do you perceive are the risks to the site? What components of the site have different levels of value? What management strategies might be used to reduce the risks at the site? Previous research reports, plus a modified list of “agents of deterioration” were attached to aid brainstorming. A list of 17 specific risks that would cause physical change to the site was prepared based on the responses, as well as further discussion during the beginning of the one day meeting. A “Delphi method” approach was used to collect risk judgements. Participants voted on each risk using “clickers” linked to proprietary software on a computer that projected each question (how soon would damage occur? how much loss?) and answer scales. The group first voted on each question without discussion. Results were presented, discussion opened, and a second vote taken. Prior to these risk questions, participants answered questions about their professional backgrounds and experience so that we could search the results later for any systematic correlations.

Despite the difficulty of the judgements and the spread in opinions prior to discussion, after discussion votes converged to a usable consensus. Furthermore, when this consensus from the very diverse group was compared to the opinions of the “recognized most expert” individual – a conservation scientist who was also a diver, had dived the site, and spent many years analyzing its deterioration – agreement was excellent. Sometimes subgroups did vote differently – the government sector versus the private sector, those who had dived the site versus those who had not – but these and other demographic differences were infrequent and modest. This demonstrated to the City that stakeholder and demographic groupings did not differ systematically in their opinion on which risks were most important. Variance in answers was significant but it was driven by individual differences within each group, not differences between groups. The software and clickers used in 2013 were expensive and buggy. The advent of reliable and low cost voting apps on smartphones makes this approach to collecting risk judgements from stakeholder meetings feasible for everyone.

Day 3: Thursday, May 27, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET


Tiffany Eng Moore, TEM Book & Paper Conservation
Crystal Maitland, Canadian Conservation Institute 

How clean is clean enough? This question underlies much of the mould remediation efforts undertaken in cultural heritage contexts. However, various human health responses to mould exposure and fragile porous substrates mean completely eliminating risk is usually impossible.

This presentation will review a variety of mould assessment techniques, ranging from visual examination to technologies such as Rapid Adenylate Swab Testers. Thresholds of cleanliness will be presented to guide thinking in how far to take a mould remediation treatment. Borrowing from risk assessment tools, a method for conceptualizing health risks and artifact access is used to guide decision making for mould damaged items and collections.

° Part I was presented at the ICON: Conservation Together at Home series – #24. Entitled How Do We Assess Mould Levels? Testing the Parameters of Rapid Adenylate Bioluminescent Swabs in Conservation, it describes the first four stages of an experimental phase and some further considerations on mould. 

Kyna Biggs*, Queen’s University
Dr. Alison Murray, Queen’s University
Patricia Smithen, Queen’s University

Biodeterioration of cultural heritage materials is an ever-growing concern for museums and cultural institutions. The wide variety in the material nature of heritage objects provides diverse ecological niches for microorganisms to colonize. Cellulose-based materials tend to be the primary targets of microbial infestations within collections as they provide a suitable and readily available nutrient source. However, materials thought to be generally resistant to microbiological deterioration, such as acrylic polymers, could become susceptible to colonization if the material has a water activity level (aw) that supports microbial growth and if a nutrient source is present, such as dirt or dust. Acrylic emulsion paints often contain fungicides as additives in their formulation to prevent fungal growth within the paint while in a liquid state, however, their effects in dry paint films remain unclear. Due to limited prior studies, little is known about the vulnerability of acrylic paint films to mould infestations, and in particular, if their vulnerability is based on their chemical composition. To improve the understanding of microbial activity as it pertains to modern paint films, appropriate protocols, preferably ones that involve easily accessible materials and techniques, must be developed to permit reproduction of necessary research. This study presents an initial exploration into the development of a simple protocol to promote microbial growth on experimental acrylic paint films and an investigation into the degradation effects caused by microbial colonization. Mould species were isolated and identified from a mould-ridden 20th-century oil painting using DNA extraction and sequencing. Experimental samples of fresh acrylic paint films, in a range of colours, were then inoculated with the isolated mould species and subjected to increasing relative humidity conditions using saturated salt solutions to determine the optimal conditions for microbial growth. The challenges of inducing microbial growth on experimental samples to be used for subsequent research as well as best practices for studying microbial activity will be discussed. The results of this study, combined with additional future efforts, will provide insight into the susceptibility of acrylic emulsion paints to biodeterioration and will inform future conservation efforts.

Chloé Lucas*, Chloé Lucas Conservation
Greg Hill, Canadian Conservation Institute (retired)
Nancy E. Binnie, Canadian Conservation Institute

The biodeterioration of photographic collections by fungi is a recurring problem that can result in the loss of part, or all of the photographic image by the hydrolysis of the paper and colloid substrate. Most photographs serve as a substrate for fungal growth because they are composed of proteinaceous and hygroscopic materials, such as gelatin, albumen and cellulose. Fungi induced damages can be minimized with a strict control of the storage environment to mitigate fungal growth; however, mould remediation treatment is still often necessary.

Lucas et al. (Restorator, vol. 38, issue 3, 2017) demonstrated that exposing photographs to the vapour of a 70:30 (v/v) mixture of absolute ethanol and demineralised water for two hours inactivates five of the most common fungal species found in photographic collections. Although the disinfection method has shown to successfully disinfect fungi on photographs, its effect on their chemical stability remains unknown. It is necessary to evaluate the effects of the vapour treatment on photographs prior to implementing this method on photographic collections.

The goal of this project is to evaluate the innocuity of the disinfection treatment on photographic techniques most commonly found in collections, in particular archival collections which are often impacted by fungal development. This study was limited to determining the effect of the disinfection treatment on chromogenic prints, which are very common in both fine art and archival collections and known to be particularly sensitive to solvents. The tests were undertaken on historic chromogenic print samples from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 2000s, on various types of primary supports, brands and provenance. The effects of the treatment on the samples were evaluated by taking colourimetric measurement before and after treatment.

The measurements showed a colour change on some of the treated samples after treatment. The importance of the colour change varies based on the sample’s date of production and condition prior to treatment. Samples from the 1980s and 2000s were the most affected by the treatment, both in percentage of affected samples and in the importance of the colour change, some samples showed colour changes visible to the naked eye. Samples from earlier decades were less affected by the treatment both in the percentage of affected samples and in the importance of the colour change.


Charlotte Parent, Formerly Royal Ontario Museum

The “Mummy from the coffin of Ta-khat” (as he is officially called in museum records) is a young Egyptian man currently housed in the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection. He is thought to have lived in the Third Intermediate or Late Period (1069-332 BCE). In 2018, the Young Man was taken to the conservation lab for treatment. The museum database contained little information about him. He was acquired in the early 1900s in Egypt by Charles Trick Currelly, the founder of the Royal Ontario Museum. He was shipped to the ROM within a woman’s, Ta-khat’s, coffin. At some point, the Young Man’s wrappings were partly removed, exposing his upper body, thighs and toes. Later, he was placed on a wooden plank, wrapped up tightly in plastic sheeting, covered with black cloth and placed on a shelf in storage where he remained for over 30 years.

Upon his arrival in the lab, the mummy’s brittle linens were lifting away from his body and crumbling onto the plywood support. His spine was visibly disturbed: vertebrae were no longer connected to one another. Soft tissues around his waist were lost or displaced. Without linens to support his waist or a sound skeletal structure, the Young Man’s body appeared to be separated into two main fragments, the lower body, and the upper body. His cranium (which was broken in unknown circumstances) was at risk of further fragmentation and dissociation, with fragments of the frontal bone already partly detached.

When faced with physical damage they are tasked with addressing, a conservator’s process includes considering the agents of deterioration that caused it. But in this case, looking only at the material causes of damage feels inadequate. The conservation process should also involve acknowledging the colonial context and ideas that led to the excavation, displacement, and unwrapping of the Young Man’s body. What attitudes, what events were at the source of the damage I documented? I looked through museum and newspaper archives and interviewed past and present museum staff to piece together his post-excavation story and reckon with a difficult history.

Julia Campbell-Such*, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
G. Asher Newsome, Smithsonian Institution Museum Conservation Institute

The US Fish and Wildlife forensics lab in Ashland, Oregon, uses Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Mass Spectrometry as a law enforcement tool to assist in the prevention of trade in wood from endangered tree species covered by CITES. This short paper summarizes research underway at the Smithsonian to apply the DART technique to materials identification in works of art. The research is a collaboration between the National Museum of African Art and the Museum Conservation Institute and focusses on the identification of hardwood species from West Africa.  The larger goal of this project is to contribute to the database of DART spectra of known woods, which is still being developed by US Fish and Wildlife, and which has the potential to be a valuable resource not only for cultural heritage research and preservation but also for researchers in other fields such as plant biology, ecological conservation, and the protection of endangered species.

Marianne LeBel*, Queen’s University (student)
Alison Murray, Queen’s University
Emy Kim, Queen’s University

Berlin wool work is a type of embroidery in which yarn is stitched onto an open-weave canvas, usually by following a grid pattern. It was the most popular form of needlework in the nineteenth century, being a very accessible craft due to its simple technique and to the wide availability of patterns. Among the frequent subjects embroidered by the practitioners of Berlin work is the reproduction of famous paintings. An example of these ‘needlepaintings’ is a large Berlin work which is being treated in the artifacts lab at Queen’s University. It is dated 1850 and reproduces Horace Vernet’s 1832 painting Raphael at the Vatican. Berlin work materials, like coloured yarn, were sold in specialized stores, ready to use by clients. Although wool was the most common fibre used for such embroideries, Berlin Work Repositories also sold other types of yarns that were used for Berlin work. Before 1856, the yarn was usually coloured with natural dyes, which were known to cause damage to the fibres during the dyeing process and were not lightfast. The Berlin work of Raphael at the Vatican shows preferential degradation of certain grey yarns and discolouration of the middle portion of the object. The object was exposed to moisture and possibly to pests. A technical investigation of the embroidery’s materials and degradation will help shed light on the causes of deterioration and inform the textile’s treatment as well as measures needed for its preventive conservation. Fibres will be identified and their morphology will be assessed by polarizing light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Hirox 3D digital microscope. The state of more degraded embroidered areas will be compared to that of more intact areas by microscopy (Hirox 3D microscope) and colorimetry. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and scanning electron microscopy coupled with X-ray energy spectrometry (SEM-EDS) could give information on mordanting, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry might be used to identify dyes that could be a threat to the long-term display of the object. The technical investigation of the needlepainting of Raphael at the Vatican might also bring new insights on the materiality and technique of Berlin work embroidery if unexpected findings are made. Berlin work was more often than not dismissed by twentieth-century embroidery historians; only recently have authors gained a new interest in the technique, which is now being understood as a cultural artifact that emerged out of a specific social context. This project will contribute to the emerging body of literature on the subject.

Sonia Kata, McCord Museum

A neon sign was restored in the McCord Museum in 2016. The 1950s sign, which spelled out ‘Notman & Son,’ came from the storefront of the Notman photography studio in Montreal. It was selected for display in a major Notman exhibition with the goal of having the sign restored to working order, meaning having it light up again. However, without any previous preservation work, the sign was in poor condition – it was dented, rusted, extremely dirty, covered with severely peeling paint, non-functional, and in fact missing most of the neon glass tubing. This was a challenging project on several fronts: ethically, how extensive should restoration and replacement be relative to conservation and preservation of original material? Practically, how could we recreate the glass tubing required for the sign to function and have the restoration be historically accurate, despite having limited documentary evidence? One major problem hindering our progress was that we did not know the original colour of the neon light. Neon lighting works by ionizing gas inside a sealed glass tube with an electric current to produce light. Despite the name, noble gases besides neon can be used, and each one produces a distinct colour of light. Furthermore, the glass tubes can be clear, or as with our sign, coated with a phosphorescent metal oxide that fluoresces to produce yet a different final colour during operation. The treatment of the sign was broken down into two parts. First, the metal sign, base minus the glass tubing and electronics, was treated in the museum’s conservation lab to stabilize and preserve as much original material as possible. It was cleaned and the paint film was consolidated and in-painted. Second, the restoration and recreation portion of the project was carried out in collaboration with a local Montreal neon artist. Working in his studio, he was able to examine and test the original glass tube fragments to determine their colour, and then could finally recreate the glass tubing based on the shape of the sign base and a related archival photograph found in our museum collection. A new neon transformer and wiring were also installed to ensure the sign worked safely, and it successfully lit up for our exhibition.


Kaoru Yui*, Queen’s University (student)
Alison Murray and Emy Kim, Queen’s University

In 2014-2015, the Master of Art Conservation program at Queen’s University obtained three Egyptian coffins dating to the Third-Intermediate Period. Both technical analysis and digital imaging were performed on the white-type anthropoid inner coffin, which is recognized as a rare type of coffin. The materials, layering structure, and areas of loss and vulnerability of the coffin were examined. This project focused on the white coffin to identify materials that remained unstudied, including the species of wood with polarized light microscopy (PLM), Hirox digital microscope and scanning electron microscope (SEM); binding medium for pigments with Fourier transmission infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The second part of the project included the evaluation of possible cleaning method by using Hirox digital microscope. Based on the evaluation results, a partial conservation proposal was provided. Another important aspect of this research project was to address the ethical considerations surrounding the treatment of the decontextualized mortuary object. Through the study of partial hieroglyphs preserved on the coffin fragments and archival research, the reconsideration of the object’s values was discussed. The entire research project included steps towards the long-term goal to reconstruct the coffin.


Bronwen Glover 
Tiffany Eng Moore, TEM Book & Paper Conservation
Christine McNair, Canadian Conservation Institute 

The treatment of mould damaged books often poses challenges due to their three dimensional and frequently complex structures. Determining the level of cleaning required for user safety is paramount as the multilayered structures mean that access under the spine or book cloth and board coverings can be difficult. Assessing or remediating a textblock or under covers may require a book to be partially or fully dismantled depending on the level of damage. As such, conservation treatment of mould damaged books can range from simple cleaning with a vacuum and brush, to far more in-depth remediation and creative housing solutions.

This poster will describe and discuss three case studies regarding mould remediation treatments for bookbindings and outline the pertinent issues considered with each volume. In treating each of these bindings, the desired outcome was for the book to be used by non-conservation professionals without PPE, and the safety of the end-user was considered the most important factor. The treatments discussed in this poster varied on the relative severity of the mould damage and ease of accessing and removing the mould residues. The determination of whether the book was adequately cleaned was based on the Canadian Institute of Conservation (CCI) rapid adenylate bioluminescent swab (ATP swab) protocol at the time. We will briefly discuss the decision-making process for the treatment of each book, and how this informed the final outcomes, showing possible solutions to varying levels of mould presence in books.


Tania Passafiume and Elspeth Jordan
Library and Archives Canada

Cellulose nitrate was the first transparent flexible plasticized base that was commercially available. A major drawback is that it decomposes over time and transforms into brittle shards. It is extremely flammable and therefore dangerous to store in a photographic collection. There are three ways to identify nitrate film-based negatives: by inspecting edge printing and notch codes for dating information, by testing the materials (polarization, diphenylamine test, burn test, float test) and by looking for nitrate film deterioration.

The six stages of deterioration consist of:

Stage 1: the image is legible and no visible deterioration.

Stage 2: legible image, some image fading could be possible, the support film begins to yellow, emulsion has signs of silver mirroring with an odor of nitric acid can be detected.

Stage 3: legible image, some image fading, film support turns yellow or becomes sticky, silver mirroring in the image layer, and odor of nitric acid starts to be noticed as well as curling.
Stage 4: the image begins to fade, the film support becomes amber in colour, silver mirroring is relevant, the odor of nitric acid is detected, nitric gas bubbles may be visible between the emulsion and film support, and there may be an “oil-slick” appearance on the emulsion side.

Stage 5: there is no legible image, the film becomes soft and can adhere to adjacent items such as negatives or enclosures, silver mirroring is present, and the odor of nitric acid is strong, the surface may also be covered with a sticky froth.

Stage 6: there is no longer a legible image, gives off a very strong nitric acid odor, the film is degraded into a brown acid powder, film breaks or shatters easily, film in this stage should be disposed of as hazardous waste.

This poster will consist of descriptive terminology and images describing the six stages of deterioration of nitrate film base. This simple, bilingual didactic tool can be used in all collections that contain nitrate film, to visually determine stages of deterioration.  It will aid determining the best storage solutions for the preservation of the negative and the safety of the collection.