Kneeling woman assessing condition of damaged headstone; woman in background stands with clipboard

WCG Angels at Historic Congressional Cemetery, 2004

Angels Projects are pro-bono work days for which WCG members volunteer their conservation expertise at a particular historic site. They are generally conducted all in one day, although the preparation and follow-up require additional time.

Angels Projects pair conservators with collections that need care. A group of conservators typically volunteer a day of their time to work with a site’s curators, archivists, or collections managers to provide basic care and rehousing for specific collections. A successful Angels Project includes local and regional publicity such as television, newspaper and magazine coverage to publicize the need for collections care and preservation.

The history of Angels Projects dates back to the late 1980s when members of WCG’s parent group, the American Institute for Conservation, began incorporating Angels Projects at sites near their annual meetings. During the following years, Angels have rehoused collections for storage upgrades, preserved daguerreotypes and tintypes, backed paintings, rolled large textiles, and prepared collections for moving.

Benefits of Angels Projects include:

  • providing an opportunity for the site personnel to become familiar with conservation and conservators in their area
  • providing sites with an opportunity to establish ongoing relationships with local conservators who may assist with on-going and future conservation needs
  • providing the opportunity for conservators to become familiar with a site’s staff and facilities which in turn may aid in future emergency response and salvage operations
  • providing an opportunity for conservators and site volunteers to network and have fun
  • enhancing public awareness of WCG activities and the goals of the conservation profession as a whole.

Sites may be historic houses or museums, or any organization that has a need for basic collections care, conservation consultation, or simple preventive conservation such as re-housing collections. To qualify for financial assistance, the site should have some financial need and have only minimal conservation facilities or expertise on staff.

WCG applies on behalf of the selected organization to The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) for grants of up to $1,000 toward the development and implementation of Angels Projects. Funds are to help defray organizational costs, necessary materials and supplies and other expenses such as marketing and publicity. Materials and supplies may also be augmented through donations. All publicity and news releases must recognize FAIC’s financial support.

To qualifty, Angels Sites must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. The site does not have a conservator on staff
  2. The site has a site director who can coordinate with the Angels chair to facilitate the event
  3. The project must fit into the WCG Angels timeline below
  4. The site should be near public transportation; and
  5. Most importantly – the site chosen should have a project that approximately 15 volunteers can complete in one day, preferably a collection of objects or archives that are in need of conservation or collection’s care assistance. The project should be well-defined and ideally would provide an opportunity to train in-house staff to carry through with the project or tasks once the Angels project is completed.

Timeline for a November Angels Project:

  • March – WCG accepts letters of interest from qualified organizations who would like to be considered for an Angels Project
  • April – Angels chair and committee members visit sites to determine a “best fit” for an Angels Project
  • May – At the WCG business meeting the first Thursday of May, the Angels site will be announced
  • Summer – The Site Director and WCG Angels chair will meet to determine the scope of the project, logistics and budget necessary to complete the project; support letters and resumes from site must be completed and turned in no later than mid- August for FAIC application date in September
  • September – Application due to FAIC for support of project (Angels Chair files application)
  • October – Notification of Angels project grant support and preparation for project in November
  • November – Angels Project takes place
  • January – Final Angels report due to FAIC and WCG

For more information, or to suggest a project for the next WCG Angels Project, please contact us:

wcg@washingtonconservationguild.org