Are We There Yet?
Observations About the Past, Present, and Future of the Research & Technical Studies Specialty Group
By Mary Striegel and Chandra Reedy for Research and Technical Studies (RATS)
While sitting around a table at the Getty Conservation Institute in late 1987, Eric Hansen, Chandra Reedy, and Mary Striegel were lamenting what appeared to be a less-than-optimal integration of conservation science into the day-to-day conservation activities taking place in studios around the country. This conversation later expanded to include conservators Phoebe Dent-Weil, Paula Volent, and others. Discussions focused on trying to identify the root causes for this seeming-disconnect. Was science not central to most treatment decisions, or were other factors at play? One problem appeared to be miscommunication or lack of communication between conservators and scientists. Similar discussions were also taking place at this time in the United Kingdom; in 1988, a meeting was held in the UK to brainstorm future directions in conservation science. The resulting published report expressed some of the same concerns being raised here in the United States.
An idea began to take shape: What if there were a specialty group within the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) that was dedicated to increasing and improving these communications, at the annual meeting and beyond? Could such a group find a shared pool of knowledge that would advance the role of science across all conservation specialties? Thus, the idea of the Research and Technical Studies (RATS) specialty group was born.
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