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Interviews in Conservation Initiative

The Interviews in Conservation Initiative is keen to organize workshops on the theory and practice of oral history in conservation, focussing on interview techniques, tips and tricks in recording, the use of automatic transcriptions, the use of metadata and disclosing and archiving interview material in collaboration with its partners. For an integral approach in conservation research the Contemporary Art specialisation of UvA’s training programme Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage has been teaching the use of artist interviews ever since the programme started in 2005.

Courses in MA Conservation and Restoration

The Master's programme in Paintings conservation includes classes on oral history theory and interviews in conservation research for all specialisations. This includes lectures on theory and practice using many examples, insight in experience of previous students, and practical exercises on interview techniques. The Contemporary Art students are conducting interviews with artists, their assistants or heirs, related to the artworks they are treating. In addition to conservation science and humanities research methods, the students use oral history methods throughout their 4-year training programme, so that they get the chance to build up experience with this research method, including a critical approach on the way they perform and interpret their source material.

Master theses

Many of the research projects of the Conservation and Restoration students include research through oral history methods. This is particularly the case for the specialisation in Contemporary Art, for example for Alice Watkins’ study on Woody van Amen’s Ice Machine sculptures, Stefanie Janson’s thesis on a multi-faceted installation by Lydia Schouten, and Karolien Withof’s study on Jan van Munster’s motorized light installations. In addition, the other specialisations have come to use this method more and more. For conducting conservator interviews, for instance, as paintings conservator Jazzy de Groot did to learn more about soft and sagging oil paints, Historic interiors conservator Hinke Sigmond to better analyse the material condition of historic interiors, and Aafke Weller for a paper conservation treatment method. These are important contributions to the conservation history in the Netherlands. Textiles conservator Lieke Boerstra has conducted interviews with a diver about how salvaged archeological finds from the bottom of the ocean. This demonstrates the increasing use of oral history as a research method in conservation

Interview Techniques Master Class

In addition to the courses given to new students in conservation as part of their training programme at the UvA, the Interviews in Conservation Initiative aspires to regularly organise master classes on interview techniques related to conservation, including conservation ethics and reflective practice, as its members have done for nearly twenty years, from Helsinki and Tallinn to Vienna and in Amsterdam, including the Oral History series. If you want to stay informed, make sure to sign up to the mailing list.

Oral History Automatic Transcription Workshop

We are planning a workshop for conservation professionals on the use of automatic transcription for interviews, which is connected to learning how to make good recordings that allow for the various features and possibilities new technology is offering. Keep an eye on this website for further information.