Call for Submissions

The American Institute for Conservation's 46th Annual Meeting will take place in Houston, May 29–June 2, 2018, at the Marriott Marquis Houston. You can learn more about the Annual Meeting, including information on exhibiting, here!

Registration will open soon, so be sure to check back to take advantage of early bird rates!
In This Section:
  • Session Types
  • General Session Call for Papers
  • Pre-session Call for Papers
  • Specialty Session Calls for Papers
  • Joint Session Calls for Papers
  • Online Portal Information

The online portal is now closed.

Be Part of Materials Matter 2018

You can use the online portal to submit materials for 3 separate calls for Annual Meeting programming:

  • Main Conference (May 31 -June 2): General, Specialty, Joint Specialty, Interest Session, or Poster Sessions
  • Pre-Meeting Sessions (May 29-30)
  • Workshops  (May 29-30)
  • What is the difference between the three calls for submissions?

    A topic submitted as an abstract for the main conference for either a general, specialty/network, or joint specialty session should conform to AIC's standard arrangement of no more than 2 speakers presenting in a 30 minute time slot. You can also submit for a panel presentation for 3-6 panelists in a 90 minute time slot. If you want your abstract to be considered for a poster presentation, you must select poster as one, if not all of your choices in the abstract form. A poster topic should lend itself to being easily understood without additional materials or interpretation when on display. You may submit multiple abstracts, however, please only submit one abstract for consideration on a topic.

    Workshops at the Annual Meeting are an opportunity to provide hands-on training and education for conservators and allied professionals. Workshops may focus on new techniques or skills useful to AIC members, or act as a refresher course on processes useful to the care of cultural materials. Workshops are almost always ticketed and have a cost for participants beyond the base meeting registration. Workshops will take place on the two pre-conference days of May 29-30.

    Pre-session abstracts should relate to the pre-session theme. Talks of 30 minutes or panels of 60 to 90 minutes are the standard format. However the program committee is open to considering other formats. Pre-sessions will take place on the two pre-conference days of May 29-30.

    Who evaluates abstracts and how are abstracts selected?

    Learn more about the program committees who help make the Annual Meeting possible and our evaluation rubric here.

    Main Conference Session Types

    Abstracts will be considered for the following session types. You can submit your abstract for up to three choices of sessions with 1 being your first choice of session type. 

    General Sessions - General Session papers must specifically address the meeting theme.  Recent efforts to provide a variety of session formats will continue and authors accepted for general session presentations may receive requests to participate in lightning rounds or concurrent general sessions. You may submit for one of the four described sessions or to the generic General Session. Please note that any abstract submitted to any General Session topic will be reviewed for all General Sessions including the Opening General Session. If you are applying for the General Session you need to select it as your first choice. Please note selecting General Session as a first choice will not your chances of being selected by a specialty session should your abstract not be selected by the General Session Program Committee.  

    Specialty Sessions - Specialty Session papers are encouraged to address the meeting theme but may also explore other topics relevant to that specialty. Specialty sessions will include: Architecture, Book and Paper, Collection Care,Electronic Media, Objects, Photographic Materials, Paintings, Research and Technical Studies, Textiles, and Wooden Artifacts. For more information on topics in the Specialty Sessions, see the Specialty Session calls for papers below.

    Joint Sessions - Joint Sessions create opportunities to explore the intersection of specialty topics. While they may address the meeting theme, they will also contain discussion of both the specialty topics involved. Please stay tuned for information regarding Joint Sessions.

    Poster Session - Posters may address the meeting theme, but presenters can also address their current research interests. Posters are presented in the Exhibit Hall. If you are presenting an abstract for consideration for a talk, but also for a poster should the abstract not be selected as a talk. Please select poster as the third choice.

    General Session

    Material Matters 2018

    How does a better understanding and appreciation of the properties of materials change their treatment, interpretation, and preservation? Papers are solicited that demonstrate the impact of material studies – or studies of materials – on the conservation profession, including the emergence of innovative treatments, new ways of “looking” and “seeing,” shifts in decision-making and desired outcomes, and changes in collection care strategies. Also welcome are explorations of the impact of trending “materiality” studies on related disciplines including archaeology, museum and curatorial fields, and art history among others. Topics can include, but are not limited to: cutting-edge imaging and analysis techniques of materials, new materials having conservation applications, revelations about the meaning and significance of materials within an artist’s work, and improved methods of authentication.

    As one part of the General Session, we are also offering four topic-focused sessions suggested by members who responded to the previous call for session proposals. Authors may submit abstracts for the General Session directly to these sessions or for the open general session call. Additional sessions will be formed based on the abstracts submitted.  Any abstract submitted for either the open General Session or for one of these topic-focused sessions will be considered for all General Session openings. You should only have one General Session in your three choices.

    Imaging Techniques that Change Our Understanding of Materials

    This session is focused on technical imaging’s contributions to materials studies. Suggested topics include multispectral imaging's evolution from revelation to examination; reflectance transformation imaging's impact on treatment discussions; hyperspectral imaging for material analysis; and photogrammetry as a method of creating digital surrogates.

    Preventive Conservation for Problematic Materials

    This session focuses on storage and preventive care solutions for objects containing materials which are problematic due to their nature, history, or treatment. Examples could include (but are not limited to) objects with: mercury mirrors, sulfur inlay, arsenic/pesticides, PEG, unstable glass, and radioactive materials. We are especially interested in practical case studies.

    Materials in Natural History Collections – Care and Conservation

    Natural history collections encompass almost every kind of material, from floral and faunal specimens, to field notebooks, taxidermy animals, and gems and minerals. For this session, we welcome papers focusing on the care and conservation of materials which fall outside typical fine art material norms.

    Material Transfers and Translations

    This session focuses on conservation decision making when artworks are transferred or translated from one medium to another. The goal is to investigate how conservation's aims are met when the original material is not preserved, or is severely distorted from its original form. Topics could include: the digitization or reformatting of electronic media; disbound or rebound volumes; paintings transferred from one substrate to another; mosaics lifted and transformed into moveable heritage; re-fabrications of artworks; replacement parts and facsimiles; and archaeological pseudomorphs or impressions.


    The 2018 Annual Meeting pre-session will take place May 29-30 and will feature the usual lineup of workshops and tours. In addition, we will be offering sessions centered around different pre-session themes.

    Whose Cultural Heritage? Whose Conservation Strategy?

    Papers are solicited on the following topics: To what degree should conservation treatments, collection management policies, and collection care programs be customized for diverse cultures and audiences? What are the barriers to promoting a more diverse workforce in cultural heritage conservation and how can they be overcome?  Papers are solicited that discuss these and other issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and access in cultural heritage preservation. Topics can include, but are not limited to, approaches to the appropriate treatment and contextual display of cultural artifacts, preservation in public and private spaces including monuments or sacred sites, the dismantling of Confederate monuments, participation of stakeholder communities, training for allied professionals and other supporters, and the challenge and impacts of achieving diversity and equity on our field, including related funding needs.

    Questions? Please contact Ruth Seyler at

    The Use of Leather in Conservation: The current use of leather in book conservation & beyond

    Leather has long been used as a repair material for damaged leather bindings. The working properties of historic leathers can be very different than modern ones. In recent years, conservators have begun to employ other materials, such as paper or cast acrylic, as an alternative to leather in book conservation treatments. Tanned animal skins offer less long-term stability and may be more difficult to prepare than other materials, but may also provide better strength and flexibility in a functioning book.

    Should conservators continue to employ leather using traditional book repair techniques on leather bindings? Should we abandon the use of tanned skins in favor of more chemically stable materials? Do alternative book repair materials really stand up to the mechanical stresses of use?

    We seek a group of speakers for a symposium that will focus on the use of leather in conservation. Speakers would include conservators who fully support the use of leather and conservators who do not and have found ways to successfully avoid it altogether. Objects conservators are also invited to submit proposals, as we all may face similar working properties and limitations with current and historic leathers. Topics of interest would also include leather manufacturing processes and materials (both historic and contemporary) and materials science research with a focus on leather. 

    Speaker sessions will be followed by a discussion involving audience input, experiences, and debate. The final structure of the symposium will be determined by the proposals submitted.

    Please contact Henry Hebert ( or Marieka Kaye ( with any questions.

    Specialty Session Calls for Papers

    The following groups will be soliciting papers:


    The Architectural Specialty Group (ASG) seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at the 46th Annual Meeting, held in Houston, TX, USA, May 29 through June 2, 2017. Submissions of original work on a topic of general interest to the ASG community or that relate to the 2018 theme, "Material Matters," are both encouraged.

    Suggested topics include but are not limited to:   

    • Material studies that have informed and influenced recent treatment, interpretation, or outcomes
    • New research into the performance and treatment of traditional materials
    • Conservation applications for innovative or unconventional materials
    • New applications or analytical techniques for existing techniques 
    • Papers on any topic that relate to material studies in the context of architectural materials or built fabric

    Please contact Rebekah Krieger (ASG Program Chair, with any questions.  Abstracts for formal presentations in the Architecture Session may be submitted by anyone with an interest or role in conservation and related professionals.

    Book and Paper:

    The Book and Paper Group (BPG) of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) seeks abstracts for the 46th Annual Meeting, held in Houston, TX, USA, May 29 through June 2, 2017.

    Abstracts for the BPG sessions may be related to the overall 2018 AIC meeting theme, “Material Matters 2018.” or address any other aspect of the conservation of art on paper, archival materials, bound volumes, manuscripts, or similar materials. The BPG sessions will include formal presentations, a Tips session, the Library Collections  Conservation Discussion Group, the Archives Conservation Discussion Group, the BPG business meeting, and an evening reception. The 2018 theme may be expanded to address:

    • Re-evaluation of materials used in historical conservation treatments
    • Approaches to removal/ retention of old repairs
    • Application of materials or techniques from non paper-based areas of conservation
    • Technical studies of artist’s materials and how they may affect treatment or thinking on an artist
    • How new technology has changed our understanding of materials
    • Treatment of non-traditional materials found in paper-based collections
    • Mixed media and its implication on treatment, housing or exhibit.

    Abstracts for formal presentations in the BPG session may be submitted by anyone with an interest or role in conservation, including current BPG members, other Specialty Group members, and related professionals. Presentations will be 23-25 minutes in length with a 5-7 minute question-and-answer period. 

    Collection Care:

    The AIC Collection Care Network (CCN) is putting together a special session for the 46th AIC Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, May 29-June 2, 2018. The theme for the main conference, “Material Matters 2018”, is especially germane to collection care and we are soliciting papers that consider evaluation and quality of storage, exhibition, and packing materials; innovative designs for collection care; new strategies for care of collections; or deal with any aspect of preventive conservation.  Please contact Karen L. Pavelka ( or Rachael Perkins Arenstein ( with questions. 

    Conservators in Private Practice

    Electronic Media:

    The Electronic Media Group (EMG) seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at the the 46th Annual Meeting, held in Houston, TX, USA,  May 29–June 2, 2018, at the Marriott Marquis Houston. Submissions of original work related to the topics below are encouraged, but other aspects of the conservation of time-based media and digital art, electronic and electric component materials, and related areas will also be considered.

    Topics for 2018 may include:

    • Overlap between digital files and material objects, for instance when a digital file is essential to reprint an artwork for display, or when digital files are created in the course of work in other Conservation disciplines.
    • Collaborations, oral histories, dialogues, i.e.,: working with other specialties, archivists, artists, curators, collectors.
    • Storage and migration strategies for digital files and artwork
    • Conservation and Documentation of Software-based artworks
    • Light-based artworks

    Abstracts for formal presentations in the EMG session may be submitted by anyone with an interest or role in conservation, including current group members, other Specialty Group members, and related professionals. Please note all abstracts will be posted as is to the website, but it will be possible to edit them once they are online. EMG will produce post-prints from the sessions. Papers for post-prints will be due July 2nd, 2018. Please contact Patricia Falcao (EMG Program Chair, or Flavia Perugini (EMG Assistant Program Chair , with any questions.


    Photographic Materials


    The Objects Specialty Group (OSG) seeks abstracts for a tripartite program at the upcoming 2018 AIC conference in Houston.  Building on last year’s treatment focus, OSG solicits talks that are related to the meeting’s material-based theme with a practical hands-on emphasis.  OSG sessions will include presentations related to the overall theme “Material Matters,” a joint session with ADG focusing on archaeological conservation, and a Tips session lunch.  Please contact Ariel O’Connor (OSG Program Chair, with questions.  Topic ideas for each could include:

    • Material Matters Presentations: In addition to the general theme, OSG is especially interested in papers that discuss the impact of conservation materials, new and aged, on conservation treatment and interpretation.  With decades of material use in our profession, we have the ability to observe and evaluate real-time aging of conservation materials.  We seek talks that share experiences with old conservation materials and choices made when encountering, revisiting, or updating old treatments.
    • ADG-OSG Archaeological Conservation Joint Session: OSG and ADG invite papers related to the conference theme in the context of archaeological conservation. For example, papers could feature innovative or diagnostic techniques used in the field to identify or examine materials, address decision-making about materials on site with limited resources, highlight collaborative projects with archaeologists/ allied professions on material studies, or revisit a treatment material used in archaeological conservation. The last OSG and ADG joint session occurred at the annual meeting in 2011 so we encourage our colleagues not to miss out on this opportunity and to submit a paper abstract for consideration
    • Tips Session Lunch: Share your favorite material-based tips and tricks!  A call for tips will come out later in the Fall.
    Research and Technical Studies:

    RATS seeks abstracts for the upcoming AIC conference in Houston; submissions of original work related the topics below are encouraged, although papers otherwise related to any aspect of research and technical studies of cultural heritage will be considered. Topics for 2018 may include:

    • Joint sessions of RATS/WAG and RATS/TSG to explore technical studies and research related to both specialties (see CFP listings below)
    • Scientific research focusing on the analysis of modern materials (i.e. 20th and 21st c. recording media, plastics, paint media) and their decay mechanisms.
    • Archaeometry- development of new analytical methods for and scientific research on archaeological materials (including built heritage).
    • Traditional techniques revisited- new analytical approaches using conventional analytical techniques such as XRF and microscopy. 

    Please contact Cory Rogge (RATS Program Chair, or Matthew Clarke (RATS Assistant Program Chair, with any questions.


    The Sustainability Committee (SC) seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at the upcoming AIC Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, May 28-June 1, 2018. This year's theme is "Material Matters." Submission of original research and work related to the theme are welcome, and any submissions related to sustainable conservation and preservation will be considered.  

    Topic ideas include:

    • How does sustainability affect how you select, use, and dispose of materials?
    • How does environmental, social, or economic sustainability affect your practice in a way now that it did not previously?
    • What conservation techniques you have tried - with success or failure - to make sustainable?

    The Textile Specialty Group (TSG) of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at the AIC 46th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, May 29–June 2, 2017.  The overall meeting theme will be “Materials Matter,” and submissions of original work related to this theme are encouraged, although papers otherwise related to the conservation of textiles will be considered.  Suggested topic ideas for 2018 include:
    • Joint session of TSG/WAG to explore treatment, research, and/or analysis of composite textile and wooden artifacts.
    • Joint session of TSG/RATS to explore technical studies and research related to both specialties
    • Innovations or changes in materials used in decision-making, treatments, collection care,  exhibition, or storage systems
    • Reconsideration of traditional materials or practices

    Please contact Melanie Sanford (TSG Program Chair, with any questions.

    Wooden Artifacts:

    The Wooden Artifacts Group (WAG) of the American Institute for Conservation seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at the AIC 46th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, May 28–June 1, 2018.  The overall meeting theme will be “Materials Matter,” and submissions of original work related to this theme are encouraged, although papers otherwise related to the conservation of wooden artifacts will be considered.  Topic ideas for 2018 include:

    • Reconsideration of traditional materials in conservation, both those that have fallen out of use and new uses for trusted go-to materials
    • Investigations into the inherent vices of wooden artifacts and solutions for mitigation and/or acceptance of these vices
    • The use of new materials and technologies for the analysis or treatment of wooden artifacts

    Please contact Paige Schmidt (WAG Program Chair, with any questions.

    Continue to check this space for for more information!

    Joint Session Call for Papers

    The following joint sessions will take place at the meeting: 

    Archaeological Site Conservation and Management Joint Session: The Architectural Specialty Group (ASG) and the Archaeological Discussion Group (ADG) of the Objects Specialty Group are pleased to announce a joint session at the next AIC conference in Houston.  Abstracts for papers are sought that relate to the intersection between architectural conservation and archaeological conservation. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

    • interdisciplinary projects at archaeological sites involving both object and architectural conservation 
    • archaeological site conservation and management 
    • long-term conservation methods, such as reburial, storage, or other 
    • protective shelters for archaeological sites or materials
    • crossing boundaries – applying archaeological object conservation approaches to architectural remains and vice-versa 
    • balancing conservation with site presentation and visitor experience areas of overlap between the two specialties, such as wall paintings, plasters, other decorative finishes, stone elements, etc.

    All relevant abstracts are welcome. Please contact Rebekah Krieger (ASG Program Chair,, Molly Gleeson (, or Francis Lukezic ( (ADG co-chairs) with questions.

    Research & Technical Studies/Wooden Artifacts Joint Session:

    WAG and RATS are pleased to announce a joint session at the upcoming AIC conference in Houston. WAG and RATS are seeking abstracts related to the following themes:

    • Analysis of surface materials including, but not limited to, lacquers (Asian and Western), marquetry colorants, polychromy, and varnishes.
    • We also welcome submissions on relevant topics including analysis of wooden artifacts, case studies, collaborative projects, and practical applications of analytical findings. In addition to treatment-related talks, technical studies of artists' materials with regard to a single work or across an oeuvre will also be considered.
    Please contact Paige Schmidt (WAG Program Chair, or Cory Rogge (RATS Vice Chair, with any questions.

    Research & Technical Studies/Textiles Joint Session:

    TSG and RATS are pleased to announce a joint session at the upcoming AIC conference in Houston.   The session will focus on the research and technical analysis of textile-based materials.  Topics of interest include materials characterization, research and development of new treatment methods, and analysis of degradation pathways but all relevant submissions are welcomed.

    Please contact Melanie Sanford (TSG Program Chair, ) or Cory Rogge (RATS Vice Chair, with any questions. 

    Textiles/Wooden Artifacts Joint Session:

    TSG and WAG are pleased to announce a joint session at the upcoming AIC conference in Houston. TSG and WAG are seeking abstracts related to the treatment, research, and/or analysis of composite textile and wooden artifacts. 

    Please contact Melanie Sanford (TSG Program Chair, or Paige Schmidt (WAG Program Chair, with any questions.

    Check back here later, there will be more sessions and information forthcoming!

    How to Submit Materials in the Online Portal

    When you enter the online portal, you need to submit login information. If you have an email address in our system (i.e., if you are an AIC member or have logged into the AIC site before), you will be asked to enter your password (the same password you use to log in to the site). If you do not have an account in our system, you will be asked to set one up before you begin your application.  As you add content to your submission, use the “Save” function as you work. Only use the “Save and Finalize” option when you are completely finished with your abstract. Once you have finalized your work, you should receive an automated email confirming your submission. If you do not receive this email within 24 hours, review your abstract and make sure you are no longer seeing an option to edit your work. You can track your submitted abstract(s) under the “My Submissions” option in the left menu. 

    If you have any technical issues or if you have questions about the abstract selection process, please contact us at

    Selecting Sessions in the Online Portal:
  • You may submit an abstract for a combination of the three session types: General Sessions, Specialty/Joint Specialty Sessions, or Poster Session. If you feel that your presentation would only be applicable to certain sessions, you may submit your presentation to only those sessions. You may select the same session for all three choices if you are only interested in presenting in one session. If you are only submitting the abstract for consideration in two sessions, indicate one of the two sessions twice.
  • When listing your three session choices, please remember that if you are interested in a joint session, choose the option that lists both groups. For example: if you want your second choice to be the Book and Paper and Photographic Materials Joint Session, don’t select "Book and Paper Session" AND "Photographic Materials Session" but select the "Book and Paper and Photographic Materials" Joint Session.
  • To be considered for the Poster session, you must indicate "Poster" as either your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice. If you mark "Poster" for all three choices, you are indicating you would only like your abstract to be considered for the poster session.

    Abstracts are due by 11:59 EDT on September 19, 2017. Abstracts are not to exceed 500 words, not including title or biographical information. All abstracts should be submitted in English.