Presentations and Recordings

Click below for presentations, recordings and handouts that were released by the presenters from the 2017 ARCS Conference held on November 3-5, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia.


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3-D Scanning on Loans for Your Incoming Exhibition Loans

Mount makers at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles have been working with 3-D scanning of museum loans to improve their mount making technique. This technology has helped reduce the amount of time an object is needed on premises for a fitting prior to installation, and has helped make precision more possible so that tweaking of mounts is less of an issue. The speakers will review their process in conjunction with the recent exhibition, Edmé Bouchardon, and how it helped the overall exhibition installation schedule.

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A

A Registrar, a Broker and an Underwriter Walk into a Bar... : Advanced Topics in Insurance

Hear three perspectives on insurance topics from a registrar, a fine art broker, and a fine art underwriter. Topics will include ‘absolute liability’, national clauses, jurisdictions, endorsements, and liability limiting language.'

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A Tale of Two Museums: Documenting "The Refusal of Time"

In 2013, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) jointly acquired William Kentridge’s, The Refusal of Time (2012). An immersive media installation composed of a five-channel video, eight audio channels, four metallic megaphones, and a kinetic breathing machine ("the elephant"), the work presents a thirty-minute visualization of the history of time. Collaborative by nature, The Refusal of Time is the first co-owned contemporary artwork between the institutions. Drawing on the experience of installing and maintaining SFMOMA's presentation of The Refusal of Time, this discussion will describe the process of developing the inter-institutional documentation of the installation's first iteration at the Met and SFMOMA. The genesis of this edition's museum life in two collections details the collaborative reality of co-owning, exhibiting, and preserving variable media arts installations.

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Art of the 4th Dimension: Working with Time-Based Media

No other medium has a relationship to entropy quite like time-based media. By its very nature it presents unique difficulties for institutions and collectors. Due to the medium’s fundamental dependence on technology, duration, and interpretation, time-based media is frequently prone to misadventures and incorrect installations that even the most-well intentioned artist and attentive stewards cannot always anticipate. Considering the complex nature of time-based media, what methods do registrars use to navigate between standardized practices of archiving and the unprecedented needs of new media? How can collections managers preserve media art for future generations, when rapid obsolescence is an inherent aspect of the work? How do galleries manage the exhibition and sale of artwork that is characteristically unreliable at best? Turning to the demands of the museum and gallery, this session examines the challenges of information management, collections care, and exhibition of time-based media artworks.

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B

Balancing Act: Providing Access While Preserving Historic Spaces and Traditions

Museums housed within historic structures face a significant challenge: balancing visitor access and historic preservation. At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, only restored areas are open to the public. The Intrepid undertook a project to catalog and 3D scan unrestored compartments, many of which had not been formally investigated since the ship's decommissioning in 1974. At the Tenement Museum, which interprets preserved and restored apartments throughout the building, growing attendance poses the largest threat to the building's fabric. The Tenement developed proactive strategies to monitor and conserve "ruin" spaces. The South Street Seaport Museum has a collection of partly functional artifacts, which require a unique level of care. The Seaport must engage in their care, and also preserve maintenance skills and working traditions. In this presentation, all three museums will share how their approaches to unrestored spaces and working artifacts will improve access while preserving their treasures.

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But Wait - There's More! The Valuation and Legal Aspects of Charitable Contributions

This session will provide the most up-to-date information that museum professionals and collection specialists should understand to have an informed discussion with their directors, donors, and clients when it comes to Charitable Contributions. Terminology between museums and the IRS may vary (Fractional gifts vs. Partial Gifts), and there are times when the museum is allowed to comment on value (Bargain Sales). Is the museum writing a Contemporaneous Written Acknowledgment to its donors for gifts to their Permanent Collections - the absence of which could negate a deduction for the Donor? Are appraisers required to provide Donees with copies of the appraisal? When does the clock start ticking for additional Fractional Interest donations? What exactly is title transfer - is physical possession needed and is the Deed of Gift the instrument of transfer? This presentation will include questions about valuation and the IRS that arise frequently within the profession.

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C

Collection Care with Materials Substitution in Thailand

To preserve collections for long-term protection, appropriate materials are significant. The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles (QSMT) used to import all archival materials and tools for collection management from the USA. Unfortunately, this was not cost effective. The price of imported materials was at the mercy of very high currency exchange fees. Expenses included international shipping, insurance, and custom fees. If damage occurred during shipping, more money and time are spent claiming and waiting for replacement supplies. For many of these reasons the QSMT decided to use domestic materials.  Some archival products have been found whose qualities are as good as the imported ones and meet international standards. QSMT conservators agreed to use these materials in collection management, significantly reducing the museum’s budgeted expenditures. This session will explain how appropriate materials were identified and tested, and which ones have been integrated into collections care.

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Collections Abroad: Australasian Registrars

Have you ever wondered what registrars and collection workers on the other side of the world are up to? Is it true, for example, that those of us in Australasia have to write all of our registration numbers upside down? This presentation will give you a brief window into the Australasian collections community through the eyes of one of ARCS' sister organizations - the Australasian Registrars Committee (ARC). What does the ARC do, and what kind of services does it offer to its members? And, how is the ARC responding to the ever-changing landscape in which we work? Come along to find out! Kangaroo parking will be provided, subject to CITES approval.

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Come Home: Access for Indigenous Communities and Practical Implications of Ceremonial Use of Collections

Many museums holding indigenous cultural materials face the challenge of providing appropriate museum care to those objects while making them available to the communities from which they come. In this session three ways of working with indigenous communities will be highlighted: the National Museum of the American Indian's methods of supporting access to indigenous communities through on-line and on-site research visits; the Alaska State Museum’s program to provide access and facilitate the continuance of traditional cultural practice with Native Alaskan objects in its collection; the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN), co-developed by the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Musqueam Indian Band, Sto:lo Nation/Tribal Council and the U'mista Cultural Society, with the goal of facilitating reciprocal and collaborative research about cultural heritage from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia.

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Complicated Loan Negotiations: Informal Study of Various Industry Requirements and Solutions

Lenders' requirements for Borrowers have become increasingly stringent, especially with regard to private collectors, estates and foundations. What are some of these requirements? How do you comply with them? Are they negotiable? Based on an informal survey of various collection managers and registrars, we will present our findings in hopes of arming the audience with practical tools for successful loan negotiations.

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Condition Reports: There's an App for That! Or Ten. 

This panel of four will compare four mobile apps used for condition reporting: PDF Expert, Articheck, Art Reports, and Notability. Each speaker will do a small demo of an app, addressing specific questions about the app's functionality, so they may be compared on equal grounds. Questions will address functions, like customization, uploading object information in advance, adjusting and marking up photos, drawing, typing, and drop-down boxes. In addition there will be discussion of ease of use, ease of customization, photos compressed, etc.  We will discuss what the user most loves and most dislikes about the app and what functions (s)he wishes were included. We will also talk about the process, comparing which apps may be faster to use, and how they compare to the old pencil-and-paper.

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The College Art Association's Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts brings tools for using copyrighted material under fair use to professionals in the visual arts. This session will introduce ARCS members to the Code and explore how they can facilitate the fair use of copyrighted content in their work. For registrars and collections managers who deal with photographic reproductions of works in the collection, requests to use images in publications, and requests for archival material, this session will explain how to make fair use decisions, alleviating a great deal of confusion and anxiety that frequently accompanies this work. In concert with colleagues in publications, education, museum libraries and archives, appropriate reliance on fair use can decrease costs and support fulfillment of museum mission.

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Helping Heritage Survive - using collections care training to build bridges between communities

Cultural Heritage Without Borders has been running its award-winning Regional Restoration Camps throughout the Balkans since 2007. Its vision: "everyone has the right to enjoy, access and participate in cultural heritage". It is dedicated to rescuing and preserving cultural heritage affected by conflict, neglect or human/natural disaster, while aiming to bring together communities. Focusing on a team of Conservators and a Registrar based in the Museum of the City of Mitrovica, Kosovo, the camp aim is to equip participants with skills and knowledge that can enable simple but important measures to be taken with limited resources to ensure the longevity of the region's rich collections. In a region where virtually no formal training is available, the camp provides lectures on the theory of preventative conservation, collections management, and remedial conservation, as well as much hands-on practical work. This includes working directly with the museum's own collections.

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How to Evaluate Collection Risk

This session will discuss how to evaluate and look at risk presented by different storage practices using industry standard strategies for analysis. By examining risks presented by natural disasters such as fires and floods, as well as facility-specific hazards such as security, environmental conditions, and pests, this session will provide a guide to identify risks, evaluate the acceptable hazards in a systematic way making best use of limited tools and resources. The Bechtler Museum's recent move to off-site storage will be used as a case study for evaluating risks presented by off-site storage and to introduce concepts of risk management and analysis for comprehensive decision making.

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Latin America Shipping Q & A

This session will focus on shipping logistics to and from Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela. Export and import licenses, trucking routes, restrictions, customs clearance, and governmental bureaucracy will be discussed.

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Legal Issues: An Update on CITES Law Regarding Ivory Imports/Exports

The ever-changing world of CITES has recently had some major changes such as the regulations pertaining to African Elephants. Hear a customs agent define the latest legal aspects and how it will affect your exhibition object list.

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Lighten Up: Enhancing the Visitor Experience

"The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum (NPM) has over 6 million objects in its collection and the majority is paper based - fragile, light sensitive and small. Since opening in 1993, collectors have asked for more rare artifacts to be displayed. As conservators we want to protect the collection from light damage. As a visitor we want to be able to enjoy these artifacts in a space that enhances the museum experience. With this in mind, the design of the W.H.Gross Stamp Gallery at NPM focused on creating a magical space for visitors to engage in the topic and exhibit valuable artifacts. NPM addressed approached the challenge in 3 areas: -Museum envelope improvements -Gallery specific solutions -Object level protection Further, in the effort to control light damage, 4 tactics were employed based on exhibit and case furniture design coupled with new technological developments in the lighting industry."

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Nomenclature Online: A New Reference Resource for Museum Cataloguers (Coming Soon!)

"If your museum uses Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging to name and classify your cultural objects there is good news! An expanded, bilingual, illustrated version of Nomenclature will soon be launched online, providing free access to consult this well-known standard for object naming vocabulary and classification. Learn about: -The proposed design and features of Nomenclature Online -How museums can use Nomenclature Online for data cleanup and standardization -Recent enhancements made to content through harmonization of Nomenclature with the bilingual, illustrated Parks Canada ""Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects"" -Plans for ongoing Nomenclature terminology development by both Canadian and US heritage organizations -How Nomenclature can be incorporated within collections management systems -How museums can become involved with the development of Nomenclature and ensure that the terms they need are included"

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O

Old Loans: Out of sight, Out of mind

Old loans are a fact of life for many registrars and collection managers, and with other competing priorities, it is easy to let them linger. When tasked with returning a single old loan or perhaps a comprehensive return project, the process is often labor intensive and may involve a risk versus benefit analysis. What happens if the lender is deceased or unresponsive or if multiple parties request the return? What are the insurance implications if the object’s valuation is outdated or there’s no loan paperwork at all?  Do you need to ask a lawyer before attempting a complicated return? Find out what tools and practices are effective in finally resolving old loans.

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R

Repatriation: Building Bridges between Nations

As museum professionals, we are aware that the objects we handle during our lifetime reflect the artistic and cultural heritage of those who came before us. Perspectives change over time. Objects once regarded as oddities are now considered cultural patrimony - like the artifacts discovered at Machu Picchu – here is the story of their return.  A soldier's war mementoes can be viewed as either historical artifacts or as personal property. A Wisconsin town and a city in Japan worked together to find and return WWII mementos to a Japanese soldier's descendants. The odyssey of the return of the contents from a salvaged vessel to the Spanish government was like a “mission impossible”. These presentations describe different types of repatriations, large and small, why they are important, and how they help build cultural bridges at a time when some people prefer to build walls.

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Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Collection Priorities at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

The 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes forced Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (New Zealand) to make disaster preparedness a priority. Immediately following a particularly destructive quake, the Gallery was repurposed as the base for the Government led emergency response team. This and the effects of the disaster resulted in the forced closure of the Gallery for five years. During this time registration made significant contributions to the Gallery’s disaster preparedness plan, championing the development of a robust priority list. The priority list was repeatedly tested as registrars responded to ongoing seismic events, the emergency evacuation of multiple storage spaces and the repair of the building while the collection remained onsite. This paper recalls the disaster that informed the development of the priority list, detailing the methodology registrars applied while discussing issues relating to usability and administration that impact the ongoing maintenance of this critical document.

Shining a Light on Energy Efficiency: LED Conversion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has embarked on a three-year museum-wide conversion of all incandescent and fluorescent lamps to LED lamps. The goal of the project is to safeguard the collection, eliminate ultraviolet emissions, to improve color perception and clarity, and allow for lower light levels in the galleries. The conversion will also realize a return on investment reflected in reduced electric utilities costs, reduced number of lamps purchased per year, and reduced labor costs due to less frequent replacement of the new LED lamps. The expected reduction in operating costs makes funds available for exhibition and educational programming as well as collections-based research and activities. This session will illustrate the process of lamp selection and testing, funding, and implementation of the campus-wide conversion to LED lamps.

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Shipping Tales: Italia

Any museum lending to or borrowing from Italy may find the process a daunting one. Issues include communications, bureaucracy, changing government positions, delays, logistics in ancient buildings and towns, along with couriers, customs procedures, public bids, insurance, and private exhibition organizers. This session aims to be a user’s manual to help deal with Italy and its many current problems and to explain why such problems exist.

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Shipping to and from Cuba without a "Crisis"

With the recent changes in diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the number of US museums collaborating with Cuban institutions and artists has grown significantly. Like any new avenue of commerce and trade, there are challenges associated with working on loans and exhibitions related to Cuban art.  Case studies include: the Bronx Museum of the Art’s recent experience with the exportation of artwork from the United States to Cuba; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s experience with the ins and outs of importing artwork from Cuba to the United States; and the Crowley Maritime Museum’s insight on policy related to import and export between the two countries. This session will help allay fears and provide helpful guidelines for registrars and shippers working on projects involving Cuban art.

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Straight from the Source: Providing Collections Access for Object Based Research

In the past, museum collections were locked away behind closed doors but increasingly institutions across the nation are evolving to provide access to their collections for research and academic learning from original source material. Access can mean physical access, sometimes with a dedicated space, or virtual access through online database portals. Additionally, access is not always an explicit part of the mission but internal directives can make it an important part of day-to-day operations and staffing. Often museums are not adequately equipped with space and technology for increased access to their collections. The panelists and their institutions represent a variety of possible situations with regard to dedicated access spaces, online access, and institutional mission driven access. This session will explore how collections staff can create innovative access and learning opportunities with varying resources as well as highlight creative and successful examples of object-based research in museums.

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The Collection Inventory Handbook for Museums and Historical Societies

The forthcoming Collection Inventory Handbook for Museums and Historical Societies will be the first publication to walk museum professionals through this foundational collections stewardship function. The manual's content is informed by a survey in which collections practitioners voiced the need for a resource to make inventories easier to implement, more accurate, and more fruitful, while also incorporating 21st century technologies. In this session, the authors will share two case studies of inventories in action: 1) barcoding and inventorying the collection at the National Museum of Mongolia and 2) the use of an open source collections management system in a comprehensive inventory at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

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The Egyptian Museum Registrar Training Project: Ten Years Later

In 2007, the American Research Center in Egypt embarked on a project to create the first registrars' department at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The project, introduced at the 2007 IRS conference in Chicago, was designed to train four Egyptian registrars and to create a database of the museum's collection. At the end of the four-year project, ten registrars had completed the training and over 162,000 objects of the museum's approximate 200,000 objects had been entered into the collections database. This update will review the successes and trials of the project and relate where the registrars and their department are now.

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To Tweet or not to Tweet And other Social Media from the Collections Point of View

Does your organization have a social media policy? Is that policy intended for official use only, or does it also include the personal use of social media by staff? Do you avoid controversial topics on your social media, or do you use social media as a tool to engage in sometimes-uncomfortable dialogue? As collections professionals, we have special access to collections storage areas, exhibitions in process, and other behind the scenes places in the museum: should this be shared? In this session, moderators will discuss considerations, and conflicting interests for how different staff interact with social media with a group of panelists who all represent different points of view on this topic including Marketing, Communications, Rights and Reproductions, and Collections departments. The panelists represent views from both the U.S. and Canada.

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Viewing a museum's diverse collections as materials types: Working toward best practices of collection stewardship

The collections of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at Penn State embody the scholarly heritage of the university. Successfully promoting the collections as a unique knowledge resource is crucial to maintaining the collections' relevancy. The collections, comprised of geological specimens, modern osteology, historic mining artifacts, and fine art, have been moved from sub-standard spaces on campus to a single off-campus storage facility. Viewing the collections as related objects rather than a collection type is vital to defining storage environment requirements and creating sustainable storage practices within the constraints of limited staff, funds, and space. Meeting the challenge of maintaining standards and best practices of collections care while capitalizing on the attributes of the diverse EMS Museum collections is dependent upon developing strategies for housing the variety of material types in the collections and customizing collection stewardship practices that ensure the sustainability of the collections and associated data.

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What is Connecting to Collections Care?

The Connecting to Collections Care Online Community provides training and resources for smaller cultural institutions to assist them in taking better care of their collections and in preserving those collections for their diverse communities. Connecting to Collections Care is a program of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation with funding by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This short session will introduce the Connecting to Collections Care program and the many resources it provides.

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When your collection moves of it's own accord: International cooperation among zoo collections managers and registrars

Zoos rely on detailed animal records to make critical, time-sensitive decisions regarding the care and management of the animals they house. Zoos have some very special acquisition methods - live birth being one of them. Obtaining permits and cooperating closely with customs brokers, zoos lend and borrow across international borders. Zoos share data in ZIMS, a database of over 6.8 million animals used by more than 1000 zoos in 90 countries. Each of the panelists will discuss one of these aspects of her work using, as a case study, one of her zoo's many living, breathing charges.

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Working with Living Artists: from Contract to Close

Working with contemporary art can present many challenges; some expected and, well, many unexpected. These challenges, disguised in various forms, may be complicated; yet the one determining factor is: The Living Artist. Newcomers may not know museum standards. Seasoned vets may not think the "rules" apply to them. Overwhelmingly, there may be a preconceived notion as to what a museum can provide. While the negatives sometimes seem to overshadow the experience, there are benefits to working with a living artist - understanding their work and process firsthand. We (registrars) face these exhibitions with both excitement and precaution. While experience can only get you so far, there are steps to assist with atypical situations and learning what questions to ask. This panel explores working with artists in venues that include private, public and university museums. We will be covering three stages of working with living artists: initial concept, development and execution.

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