Rebecca Fifield to speak at WCG’s Feb. 7 meeting

Posted on Jan 24, 2013

The Gang’s All Here, Now What? Current Challenges for Collection Care

Presented by Rebecca Fifield, Collections Manager for the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. RSVP required.

Exterior view of 1310 G St. NW, Washington, DC

Meeting logistics

Museum Studies Program, The George Washington University, 1310 G St. NW, Suite 690, Washington, DC 20005 (View on map)
Metro: Metro Center (Red, Blue, and Orange lines)

RSVP REQUIRED before 4 pm on February 6, 2013:

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. reception
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. presentation
NOTE: Attendees must arrive before 6:00 p.m. when building doors are locked! Sign in with Security Guard at front desk, take elevator to Floor 6

This event is free to WCG members
$5 for guests and non-members


Collection care covers the range of activities that preserves the intellectual and physical value of collections over time. During the 1980s and 1990s, conservators who believed that targeting the agents of deterioration to prevent collection damage championed the message of preventive conservation.  Preventing damage to collections would reduce the need for interventive treatment. Training for collection care practitioners and administrators was developed. Granting agencies became interested in surveys and risk assessments. Preventive conservation, as a term and concept, appeared more frequently at conferences.

Twenty-five years later, museums are still hesitant to institutionalize a preventive approach to managing collections. Collection care professionals have difficulty finding permanent positions. They experience a lack of mentoring, professional development, and advancement opportunities, leading to high turnover and burnout. Interventive treatment that meets current exhibition needs remains the primary focus for many conservation functions within museums. Museum collection care positions and institutional systems that center on a preventive approach remain scarce.

Ms. Fifield will discuss the current challenges to advancing collection care practice. She will explore the obstacles to establishing collection care systems within institutions as well as the ways that conservators, collection managers, and allied positions have been working together to strengthen the message of collection care, including the creation of the American Institute for Conservation’s Collection Care Network.

This session is of interest to collection care professionals, conservators, administrators, cultural heritage professionals, and others interested in collections management and preventive conservation.

Photo of Rebecca FifieldSpeaker Bio

Rebecca Fifield is Collections Manager for the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ms. Fifield was a recipient of an NEH Collections Care Administrator Training Program fellowship at The George Washington University, where she received an M.A. in Museum Studies in 1999. She is a 1996 graduate of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. Ms. Fifield is currently the Chair of Alliance for Response NYC, Vice Chair of the American Institute for Conservation’s Collection Care Network, and author of The Still Room blog.