With the name “Testing the waters” the conference attempts to look at many of the issues that concern emerging conservators. Water represents both change and life, is present in many aspects of conservation and is a key component of our ecosystem. By using the common expression, ‘Testing the Waters’ as the title, we would like to treat the space of the conference as one in which to reflect and evaluate the first steps in a career in conservation.
The 2023 conference has been organised by conservation students at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) and will take place against the backdrop of the historic city of Amsterdam. It is for this reason that the conference logo for 2023 prominently features the canal ring of Amsterdam, honouring the location of this conference and the lifeblood of the city.
The Grachtengordel was created in the Dutch Golden Age and was meant to unite the city while also promoting financial and social growth. However, it came with drawbacks, as the canals were subject to much pollution from the city. This problem was first addressed at the end of the 19th Century when a steam powered pump was installed to flush freshwater through the canals. Legislation is still being implemented to improve the water quality of the canals while the city simultaneously undergoes a massive reconstruction project to shore up the bridges and canal walls.
Behind this iconic landmark there is more than an 18th Century transport system, or a tourist attraction. The canal belt of Amsterdam represents a commitment to the preservation of history and heritage, while also reducing our impact on the environment. In this same way, conservators must continue to innovate and push the bounds of sustainability while still honouring and preserving our past.