5 great reasons to attend the ICOM-CC Conference

1. To learn

There are over 21 working groups represented across 12 sessions, presenting the latest research of 150 conservation practitioners and scientists. So if you currently have a conservation treatment or issue of concern, my bet is that you’ll find an expert or like-minded person somewhere amongst the 650 conference attendees who will save you time by explaining existing research and current thinking in the problem area or introduce you to others who can. When it comes to knowledge-getting for problem-solving, conferences provide a unique multi-modal learning experience with visual, aural and written content – a much more pleasant situation than reading articles in the tearoom on your lunch-break!

2. To unlearn

It follows that while a conference is a place to learn something new, it’s also a great place to test whether you need to unlearn something old. Questions of ‘why’ and for ‘whom’ we conserve material culture remain little changed since ICOM-CC was in last Australia, but there is little doubt that the ‘what’ we conserve and ‘how’ we do it are in a state of transition. As the materials from which cultural heritage is created multiplies; the materials, tools and methodologies we use to treat them likewise evolve; and the cultural and pedagogical frameworks within which we enact practice become more complex, International conferences such as the ICOM-CC Triennial are a great chance to investigate and celebrate commonalities and differences across specialisations, geographic locations, institutions and organisations. My recommendation: attend at least one session you think is irrelevant to your practice (or you think you know everything about) to challenge that hypothesis.

3. To network, net-rest and net-play

As interesting, engaging and challenging as the formal papers are, it is the in the interstitial moments that the ‘work’ of the conference attendee begins. Morning tea, afternoon tea, downtime and dinner are an opportunity to make new friends, spark heated debates, exchange business cards/Linked In/Facebook invites, swap treatment tips, and create or enact upon research and partnering opportunities. This is the stuff that powers communities of practice.

4. Food and wine  

Conservators may be servants of Minerva but many hold Bacchus close to their hearts so thankfully your conference registration includes not only 150 papers, 150 posters, a range of technical visits and access to the best of our professional suppliers, but morning tea, afternoon tea and lunches every day. There’ll even be fruit beverages (of the fresh or fermented kind) available for consumption at the Welcome Reception.

5. Your hip pocket

Best of all, since the conference is work-related, tax deductions ensure you’ll be reimbursed a third of the registration fee attendance and related professional costs when you file your tax return in July 2015… unless of course you’re one of the few who’s been lucky enough to be sponsored by their employer or received a grant.

I look forward to catching up with you all in Melbourne next month!

MaryJo Lelyveld, AICCM National President 

Slider image: courtesy of The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek via Wiki Commons