Conservation may be the most central cultural issue of our time. The transition from analog to digital documentation means that the human record itself now faces an entirely new set of preservation challenges. The earth’s climate change makes conservation of physical features into a new political challenge. And all this is happening while artists, practitioners in various fields, and scholars turn to conservation with high expectations for new knowledge about the past.

This one-day symposium addresses the problem of “Extreme Conservation”—both the extremity of the general situation and extremely difficult but information-rich cases of conservation.


Peter Miller
Dean and Professor, Bard Graduate Center
Welcome and Introduction


Matthew Battles
Associate Director, metaLAB, Harvard University
The Object in Extremis



Friedemann Hellwig
Professor Emeritus, University of Applied Sciences, Cologne
Death Camps: The Example of Auschwitz



Malcolm Collum
Chief Conservator, Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum
Unexpected Trajectories: Tracing the Evolution of Hardware Used in Space Exploration to Revered Museum Artifacts


Stephen Rustow
Professor of Architecture, Irwin S Chanin School of Architecture, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Curating the Container — the Museum as Museological Object



Panel Discussion
with Matthew Battles, Malcolm Collum, Friedemann Hellwig, and Stephen Rustow



Living Objects


Petra Lange-Berndt
Lecturer, University College London
Uncanny Materiality: The Spoiled Trophies of Taxidermy


Matthew Siegal
Chair, Conservation and Collection Management, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
From Back of House to Front: The Performance of Conservation as Public Programming



Isabelle Brajer
Senior Research Conservator, The National Museum of Denmark
Mistakes and Controversial Treatments on Wall Paintings


Panel Discussion
with Matthew Battles, Petra Lange-Berndt, Isabelle Brajer, Malcolm Collum, Stephen Rustow, and Matthew Siegal