Photographic Materials

Who We Are

The Photographic Materials Group (PMG) of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) was officially formed with a signed article of incorporation in August 1979, making it the first Specialty Group within AIC. Initially, photographic materials conservators met annually at the general AIC meetings and at an annual winter meeting specific to photographic materials conservation. By 1989, the bi-annual winter meetings schedule replaced the yearly winter meeting schedule. As of 2014, there are approximately 400 AIC members who are also PMG members.

The purpose of the Photographic Materials Group is to encourage and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information about photographic conservation and to promote the development of sound conservation practices, to promote the publication of scholarly articles on photographic conservation and related topics,and to develop closer ties with other related disciplines, and to disseminate responsible information on the care of photographs. Areas of interest mirror the diversity of materials found in photographic media: plastic film, glass, metal, and composite objects including wood, paper prints, and album/book structures.

What We Do

Annual Meeting

Specialty groups coordinate specialty programming for AIC’s Annual Meeting. Programming sometimes corresponds with overall meeting theme, sometimes concentrates on a special theme and frequently includes collaborative efforts with other specialty groups. Topics covered include collections management, treatments, updates on research, disaster recovery, research and analysis, case studies, techniques, and other issues. The program is usually a full day or more of paper presentations, panel discussions, tips sessions, workshops, as well as a business meeting and social events. Program content is then sometimes assembled into publications and resources.

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Specialty groups maintain listservs, which are valuable forums where colleagues with similar interests and experience can share and exchange ideas and practical information, facilitate open discussion, disseminate group-related news, questions, job postings, announcements, comments of interest, and general information. Listservs are closed lists. Subscription to them is benefit of membership in the specialty group. All new members of the group are automatically subscribed to the list. To unsubscribe, contact the listserv moderator. All messages are archived and are searchable.

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Publications and Resources

Specialty groups prepare topic-based publications, typically though not always a collection of concepts presented at the AIC's Annual Meeting turned into long-form articles. While not peer-reviewed, these postprints present a wealth of information about current topics in conservation as well as insight into conservation treatments. They also produce publications and resources that range from catalogs of conservation treatments and techniques, to conservation wikis, and to various special topic publications and resources. Electronic and print versions of past and current publications are usually available in the store, either free or for a fee.

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Biannual PMG Winter Meeting

PMG sponsors a biannual, two day winter meeting that usually includes a one day pre- or post-conference session featuring workshops or lectures. On those years when the Biannual Winter Meeting is held, the photographic materials session at the Annual Meeting is abbreviated, usually only a business session. For those years without the winter meeting, there is typically at least a full day of presentations at the Annual Meeting. Images submitted by the membership of the 10th Biannual Winter Meeting are available through the AIC Flickr site.

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Grants and Scholarships

The Photographic Materials Group offers small grants to encourage scholarship, research, exchange, and publication within the field and related communities. Projects demonstrating immediate dissemination through publication, workshops, and/or public lectures will be given priority. Proposed projects may include a research project or segment thereof, preparation of a manuscript for publication, or organization and implementation of a workshop. Proposals for other projects will be considered if appropriate to the general funding goals. There are 2 rounds of applications per year.  Applications for grants should be submitted to the PMG Chairperson, care of AIC, on or before March 15th and October 15th of each year.

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