International Institute for Conservation

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International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
International Institute for Conservation.gif
Full nameInternational Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
AffiliationLearned society
Office locationLondon, United Kingdom

The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) is a global organisation for conservation and restoration professionals with over two thousand members in over fifty countries. The IIC seeks to promote the knowledge, methods and working standards needed to protect and preserve historic and artistic works throughout the world.


IIC is an independent international organisation supported by individual and institutional members. It is a forum for communication among those professionals who have responsibility for the preservation of cultural heritage. It aims to advance knowledge, practice and standards for the conservation of historic and artistic works through its publications and conferences. It also promotes professional excellence and public awareness through its awards and scholarships.

Organisation and governance[edit]

The current Council of the institute (2018-2019) is:


Ordinary Members of Council:

IIC's Council attempts to reflect the geographical and professional balance of the worldwide conservation profession. Council Members, including the Secretary-General and Treasurer, are volunteers, as are the editors of Studies in Conservation and IIC's Congress preprints. The institute has a permanent secretariat in London with a staff of four.

IIC co-operates closely with other organisations in the field, notably the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property and the Committee for Conservation of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) as well as national and regional conservation groups.

IIC is a learned society and is also registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.[2]


In 1930, the International Museums Office of the League of Nations held a conference in Rome on the examination and conservation of works of art. Following this meeting, the Museums Office issued a series of publications on the subject. In 1932 a technical journal of conservation studies, Technical Studies in the Field of the Fine Arts,[3] was established by the Fogg Museum (Harvard University), under the managing editorship of George L. Stout. It continued publication until 1942.

The repatriation of art treasures after World War II brought together experts from Europe and the United States. They proposed the revival of Technical Studies and the formation of an international body of conservators to continue the interchange of information on the care and conservation of works of art. Between 1946 and 1948 a series of meetings was held to discuss these proposals. Foremost among those involved in the meetings were George L. Stout, W.G. Constable (Boston), Ian Rawlins (London), and Paul Coremans (Brussels).

In December 1948 at a meeting of the ICOM Commission on the Care of Paintings in London, it was announced that a new international institute for conservation was about to be incorporated with offices in London and that its interests would be the scientific and technical study of the subject.[4]

Early history[edit]

On April 27, 1950, the International Institute for the Conservation of Museum Objects (which acquired its present name in 1959) was incorporated as a limited company in the United Kingdom.[5] Its aims were "to improve the state of knowledge and standards of practice and to provide a common meeting ground and publishing body for all who are interested in and professionally skilled in the conservation of museum objects”.[4] The Institute was to be concerned with:

  • The status of conservators, by forming a professional self-electing body
  • Publications: abstracts of the technical literature, and original work with a scientific bias - the end of the "secrets of the Old Masters"
  • Training, with the aim of raising standards.

The office was established with the help of a grant from the Nuffield Foundation. London was chosen as the "midpoint" between the United States and continental Europe. Office space was provided free by the Trustees of the National Gallery (London). The Institute moved to its own independent offices in 1968.

The membership was to consist of Fellows who were to be persons highly qualified in (or in positions of great authority in) conservation and Associates who were to be "persons anxious to promote the objects of the Institute". Later a category of Institutional Members was introduced.

When the IIC was founded in 1950, the Founder Fellows were George L. Stout, Rutherford J. Gettens, Richard Buck, W.G. Constable, Murray Pease, Ian Rawlins, Harold Plenderleith, Sir Wallace Akers (chairman of ICI), Helmut Ruhemann, and Paul Coremans. Others who joined in that first year included Arthur van Schendel, René Sneyers, and Sheldon and Caroline Keck. Stout became the IIC's first President, with Plenderleith its Treasurer and Rawlins its Secretary-General.[4]

The IIC membership grew quickly. In October 1952 there were 62 members (38 of them Fellows) with 64 candidates for associate membership in process of election; by March 1952, there were 167 members (50 of them Fellows).[6]


  • IIC Fellows are senior members of the profession who are elected by the existing body of Fellows. Fellowship of IIC is open to all members who are actively engaged in the profession of conservation. Fellows must be able to demonstrate commitment to the profession and to show that they keep up-to-date with relevant developments. Indicators include publications, voluntary service to conservation organisations, participation in conferences and training events, membership of other relevant professional bodies, and accreditation by a national organisation.[7]
  • IIC Individual membership is open to those working in conservation and with an interest in conserving the world's heritage.
  • Student membership of IIC is for those enrolled in a full-time programme of education, training or work experience under the supervision of a professional conservator.
  • Institutional IIC membership is intended for museum and galleries, libraries and archives, conservation schools, research institutes and commercial firms.

Publications & Communications[edit]

In May 1952, the first issue of the IIC Newsletter appeared; this later became the IIC Bulletin and in turn was succeeded in 2007 by News in Conservation. In October 1952, Studies in Conservation began publication. IIC Abstracts, an international journal of abstracts of the technical literature and the forerunner of Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts, was first published in 1955. With changing editorship, it ran for five volumes ending with Vol.5, no.4 (Autumn 1965). In 2000, the first volume of the annual Reviews in Conservation was published.

Studies in Conservation[edit]

Studies in Conservation[8] is a peer-reviewed academic journal, produced eight times a year, on the conservation of historic and artistic works. Studies in Conservation publishes original work on a range of subjects including, but not limited to, advances in conservation practice, novel methods of treatment, preventive conservation, issues of collection care, conservation history and ethics, examination methods for works of art, new research in the analysis of artistic materials or mechanisms of deterioration, and conservation issues in display and storage.

Reviews in Conservation[edit]

Published annually from 2000 until 2010, Reviews in Conservation has now been incorporated into Studies in Conservation.[9]

News in Conservation[edit]

News in Conservation is published electronically every other month.[10] It aims to provide a place where opinions, news, and information can be shared and discussed. Free to the general public for download from the IIC web-site, News in Conservation contains news from the IIC Council and regional groups, as well as job vacancies, conference listings, and notices, along with a mixture of news stories, features, interviews, and other articles relating to all aspects of conservation in every issue.

Social Networking[edit]

IIC operates a lively Facebook page and Twitter and LinkedIn presence as well as a discussion group on LinkedIn. These allow for the rapid sharing of conservation news and events and, at LinkedIn, an active discussion forum for conservation issues and topics

Biennial Congresses[edit]

In 1961, with the help of a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation, the IIC held its first international conference. That meeting, in Rome, was attended by 150 people, and the papers were published by Butterworths under the title Recent Advances in Conservation.[11] Subsequently, conferences have been held at two- or three-year intervals with published preprints on a topic of current interest. Past conferences are:

  • Recent Advances in Conservation (Rome 1961)
  • Textile Conservation (Delft 1964)
  • Museum Climatology (London 1967)
  • Stone and Wooden Objects (New York 1970)
  • Paintings and the Graphic Arts (Lisbon 1972)
  • Archaeology and the Applied Arts (Stockholm 1975)
  • Wood in Painting and the Decorative Arts (Oxford 1978)
  • Conservation Within Historic Buildings (Vienna 1980)
  • Science and Technology (Washington 1982)
  • Adhesives and Consolidants (Paris 1984)
  • Cleaning, Retouching and Coatings (Brussels 1990)
  • Stone and Wall Paintings (Bologna 1986)
  • Far Eastern Art (Kyoto 1988)
  • Iberian and Latin American Cultural Heritage (Madrid 1992)
  • Preventive Conservation (Ottawa 1994)
  • Archaeological Conservation and its Consequences (Copenhagen 1996)
  • Painting Techniques: History, Materials and Studio Practice (Dublin 1998)
  • Tradition and Innovation: Advances in Conservation (Melbourne 2000)
  • Works of Art on Paper. Books, Documents and Photographs. Techniques and Conservation (Baltimore 2002)
  • Modern Art: New Museums (Bilbao 2004)
  • The Object in Context: Crossing Conservation Boundaries (Munich 2006)
  • Conservation and Access (London 2008)
  • Conservation and the Eastern Mediterranean (Istanbul 2010)
  • The Decorative: Conservation and the Applied Arts (Vienna 2012)
  • An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage (Hong Kong 2014)
  • Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works (Los Angeles 2016)

The next in this series is:

  • Preventive Conservation: The State of the Art (Turin, 2018)

Student & Emerging Conservator Conferences[edit]

In 2011 IIC instigated its Student & Emerging Conservator Conference series. These events are aimed at helping recent graduates and those still studying conservation to develop their skills and gain valuable career insights. They offer invaluable networking opportunities and panel discussions with webcasts, studio visits and a lively social programme.

The first conference in this series was

  • Conservation: Futures and Responsibilities (London 2011)

This was followed by:

  • Conservation: Obstacles or Opportunities? (Copenhagen, 2013)
  • Conservation: Making the Transition (Warsaw 2015)
  • Head, Hands & Heart (Bern, 2017)

With the next event planned for 2019.

Regional groups[edit]

IIC's Regional Groups began in 1958. Regional Groups are independent associations affiliated or associated with IIC. A Regional Group is required to adhere to the aims and objectives of the IIC as expressed in the Memorandum of Association. Its by-laws must be approved by the IIC Council and its officers should be members of IIC. The first Regional Groups formed were the IIC-United Kingdom Group (now Icon, the Institute of Conservation) and the IIC-American Group (now the American Institute for Conservation). There are currently Regional Groups in Scandinavia, Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, and Spain as well as an Arabic Group.


Honorary Fellowship[edit]

IIC Honorary Fellowship was established to recognise outstanding contributions to heritage conservation. The first Honorary Fellowship was awarded to Edward W. Forbes in 1958. Since that date the award has been made to the following individuals:

  • F.I.G. Rawlins*
  • George L. Stout*
  • W. G. Constable*
  • Harold Plenderleith*
  • A.M. Bell*
  • Arthur van Schendel*
  • Norman Reid*
  • Sheldon Keck*
  • Garry Thomson*
  • Stephen Rees Jones*
  • Kazuo Yamasaki
  • H.W.M. Hodges*
  • Hedy d'Ancona
  • Caroline Keck*
  • Paolo Mora*
  • Laura Mora*
  • Robert L. Feller
  • Agnes Ballestrem*
  • A.E. Werner*
  • O.P. Agrawal
  • Kenzo Toishi*
  • Karen Finch
  • Marian Kemp Weidner
  • Perry Smith
  • Hermann Kühn
  • Manfred Koller
  • J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer
  • Sue Sack
  • Giorgio Toracca*
  • Robert Brill
  • John S Mills
  • Elisabeth West FitzHugh*

(* deceased)

Keck Award[edit]

The Keck Award, endowed by Sheldon and Caroline Keck, is presented every two years at the IIC Congress to the individual or group who has, in the opinion of the Council, contributed most towards promoting public understanding and appreciation of the accomplishments of the conservation profession.

Past winners of the Keck Award are:[12]

the Acropolis Museum and Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas for ‘Laser rejuvenation of Caryatids opens to the public at the Acropolis Museum: A link between ancient and modern Greece’[13][14] and Conservation Science Investigation Sittingbourne for ‘Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne - Conservation Science Investigations’[15]

Forbes Prize Lecture[edit]

The Forbes Prize Lecture has been delivered at every IIC Congress since the Rome Congress in 1961. In 1958 a Forbes Prize Fund had been set up at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, to which financial contributions were made in recognition of Edward W. Forbes's services to conservation. The fund was to be administered by IIC to provide some kind of prize for outstanding work in the field of conservation. It was agreed in 1960 that the accumulated funds should be awarded in the form of a fee for a Forbes Lecture at the 1961 IIC Rome Conference, and the first Forbes Prize lecture was given there by Harold Plenderleith.

Past Forbes Prize Lecturers:[16]

  • Carol Mancusi-Ungaro (Los Angeles 2016)
  • Jixiang Shan (單霽翔博士) (Hong Kong 2014)[17]
  • Manfred Koller (Vienna 2012))
  • David Lowenthal (Istanbul 2010)
  • David Bomford (London 2008)
  • Gaël de Guichen (Munich 2006)
  • Andreas Burmester (Bilbao 2004)
  • Elizabeth West FitzHugh (Baltimore 2002)
  • Sarah Staniforth (Melbourne 2000)
  • Ashok Roy (Dublin 1998)
  • W. Andrew Oddy (Copenhagen 1996)
  • H. W. M. Hodges (Ottawa 1994)
  • A. E. Werner (Madrid 1992)
  • Robert L. Feller (Brussels 1990)
  • Kazuo Yamasaki (Kyoto 1988)
  • Giorgio Torraca (Bologna 1986)
  • John S. Mills (Paris 1984)
  • E.T. Hall (Washington 1982)
  • Lawrence Majewski (Vienna 1980)
  • Caroline Keck (Oxford 1978)
  • Lars Barkmann (Stockholm 1975)
  • Helmut Ruhemann (Lisbon 1972)
  • Arthur van Schendel (New York 1970)
  • Rutherford John Gettens (London 1967)
  • Paul Coremans (Delft 1964)
  • Harold Plenderleith (Rome 1961)

Image Permanence Award[edit]

The HP Image Permanence Award, sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and given with participation of IIC, was run until 2013 and recognised outstanding contributions that advance the longevity of photographic and fine art images created via modern digital methods. Past winners are:[18]

  • 2013 - Yoshihiko Shibahara of Fujifilm Corporation for his significant contributions to furthering the understanding of how modern print materials respond to forces of decay such as light, pollution, and humidity.
  • 2012 - Alan Hodgson, chair of the UK group active in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for Photography and is technical lead for the UK on ISO standards for Image Permanence, for his support of academic research and training the next generation of scientists studying the permanence of imaging materials; work on developing international standards on the permanence and preservation of digital printing materials; significant contributions to the technical literature; and long history of volunteer work for the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, the Royal Photographic Society, and the Institute of Physics Printing and Graphics Science Group.
  • 2011 - Nora Kennedy, Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for her outstanding contributions that advance the longevity of photographic and fine art images created via modern digital methods
  • 2010 - Martin Jürgens for his work as an advocate and teacher of the preservation of digital prints
  • 2009 - Steven Puglia, preservation and imaging specialist at the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for his outstanding efforts as a teacher and advocate for image preservation
  • 2008 - Rita Hofmann, Research and Development Director for the Ilford Imaging Group since 2000
  • 2007 - James M. Reilly, founder and director of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

Gabo Trust - IIC Travelling Scholarship[edit]

The Gabo Trust[19] - IIC Travelling Scholarship is a monetary award that allows individuals to travel around the world with the aim of carrying out research on the conservation of sculpture and meeting and seeing the work of other conservators and learning about their approaches, ethics, materials, and methods.[20]

Brommelle Memorial Fund[edit]

The Brommelle Memorial Fund was established in 1990 in memory of Norman Brommelle, who was Secretary-General of IIC between 1958 and 1988. The fund is used to provide assistance for students of conservation who wish to attend the Institute's international congresses.[21]

Opportunities Fund[edit]

IIC supports conservation institutions and individual conservators who cannot afford the cost of membership through its Opportunities Fund.[22] The fund is maintained through contributions of members and allows successful applicants to receive up to three years' membership of IIC without charge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heritage conservation in Hong Kong
  2. ^ "Charity overview". Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  3. ^ Packard, Elisabeth C.G. George Stout and the Art Technical Sections of the AAM annual meetings in the 1930s and 1940s. Part II.
  4. ^ a b c Gettens, Rutherford J. IIC: an international association of conservators. Museum News (American Association of Museums) 47, no. 10 (1969 Jun), pp. 11-14.
  5. ^ The international journal of museum management and curatorship 1, no. 2 (1982 Jun), pp. 159-161.
  6. ^ Brooks, Hero Boothroyd. A Short History of IIC: Foundation and Development. IIC (2000), ISBN 0-9500525-3-1
  7. ^ Anon. The International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship 1, no. 2 (1982 Jun), pp. 159-161.
  8. ^ "Browse Studies in Conservation | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  9. ^ "Browse Reviews in Conservation | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  10. ^ "Browse News in Conservation | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  11. ^ Recent Advances in Conservation: Contributions to the IIC Rome Conference, 1961 (1963)
  12. ^ "The Keck Awards | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  13. ^ "Conserving the Caryatids - Acropolis Museum".
  14. ^ "Press release keck award 2012 Acropolis museum" (PDF) (Press release).
  15. ^ "Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne". Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne.
  16. ^ "Forbes Prize Lecture | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Image Permanence Award | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "The Gabo Trust - IIC Travelling Scholarship | International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  21. ^ "Brommelle Memorial Fund".
  22. ^ "Opportunities Fund".

External links[edit]