Selected Acquisitions: ICCROM Library

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Book covers for “Preventive Conservation Collection Storage”, “Tales of the Unexpected” and “Issues in Preservation Policy” on the ICCROM Library card catalogue drawers. Image by Daniela Sauer.

Ideas for reading by Daniela Sauer


For the April-May 2021 issue of News in Conservation, the ICCROM Library is again contributing a list of new acquisitions and presents a few titles hand-picked by the librarian. As usual, the list includes most new acquisitions (both purchases and donations) of the ICCROM Library from May 2020 to February 2021 (download the full PDF at the bottom of the article). In this way, we hope to give you a panoramic view of our new acquisitions including newly published titles in the field. Do not hesitate to explore our entire catalogue here. For any further information, please contact: Daniela Sauer;

To give you a taste of our newest holdings, we present a few titles below.

One long year has passed since the COVID-19 emergency began to change our lives. Finally, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to medical progress, but we’re all aware that the length of the tunnel may vary quite a bit across the globe, and probably for some the end of the pandemic dark may only transition into another difficult period. One of the greatest challenges during the next months, years and probably decades –including in the field of heritage preservation—will be to work against exclusion. That’s why my first choice for the three titles in this column falls on the second volume of the “Issues in Preservation” series published by Columbia University:

Preservation and social inclusion, Edited by Erica Avrami. New York: Columbia University (2020). ISBN: 9781941332603; Page count: 251 p.; ICCROM: II 563.  Link to catalogue:

The volume is the result of a symposium on themes of preservation and social inclusion held in February 2019, in New York, United States. In particular, this event examined ”how multiple publics are – or are not – represented in heritage decision-making, geographies, and policy structures.” In the introduction Erica Avrami shares with the reader three questions that were posed to the participants of the symposium. The first question asks “how diverse narratives and communities are represented or excluded through preservation.” The second question addresses the actors participating in the preservation processes and the responsibility of decision-makers, and the final question asks about the “effects of preservation policies and processes on communities”. I’m sure your interest in how these questions can be approached will entice you to read this book, which is available as an Open Access publication:

Summary from back cover:

The preservation enterprise helps fashion the physical contours of memory in public space, and thus has the power to curate a multidimensional and inclusive representation of societal values and narratives. Increasingly, the field of preservation is being challenged to consider questions of social inclusion, of how multiple publics are—or are not—represented in heritage decision-making, geographies, and governance structures. Community engagement is increasingly being integrated into project-based preservation practice, but the policy toolbox has been slower to evolve. Recognizing how preservation and other land use decisions can both empower and marginalize publics compels greater reflection on preservation’s past and future and collective action beyond the project level. This requires professionals and institutions to consider systemic policy change with integrity, sensitivity, and intentionality.


Preventive conservation: collection storage, Edited by by Elkin, Lisa, Norris, Christopher A., American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC); Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC); Smithsonian Institution; Museum Studies Programme, George Washington University.  Washington DC : American Institute for Conservation, (2020).  ISBN: 9780997867923; Page count: 944 p.; ICCROM: XXI 886.  Link to catalogue: 125706

While we are all living through this unprecedented situation, life somehow goes on, and all our ‘normal’ daily practices in relation to collection care must continue as well. Material heritage is in constant need of steady preventive care and conservation management, applied to ensure sustainable preservation of heritage collections. In relation to maintaining quality control and improving our daily routines, many answers to questions on the themes of preventive conservation and storage can be found in this new publication. It is compiled as a very valuable handbook, and in my view, the nearly 1000-page book will certainly be a tool of great interest for all practitioners in this field.

Summary from publisher:

Good storage is the foundation of effective collection care-advancing conservation while promoting accessibility and use. Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage covers all types of collections, including science, fine and decorative art, history, library, archive, and digital collections. It concentrates on preventive conservation and emphasizes a risk-management approach. Reflecting the breadth of its scope, the new book is a collaboration between the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the American Institute for Conservation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the George Washington University Museum Studies Program. It will be useful to anyone in the field of collection care looking for an overview of collection storage—be it an established specialist, an emerging professional, or a student.


Tales of the unexpected in paintings conservation, Edited by Kempski, Mary, Kirby, Jo, Leanse, Victoria, and Mandy, Kristina.  London: Archetype (2020).  ISBN: 9781909492745; Page count: ix, 137 p.; ICCROM: X D 438.  Link to ICCROM Library catalogue: 125736

Last but not least, I would like to propose to you this new Archetype publication, especially to the painting conservation community. This interesting book—the result of the last BAP conference held in Wales in January 2020—touches upon the materiality of paintings and the ‘secret’ artistic intentions that materials may hide, which are sometimes unveiled during conservation analysis and treatment.

Summary from the publisher:

Conservators' prolonged proximity to paintings makes them ideally placed to notice anything unusual or surprising which might arise during examination or treatment. Ensuing investigations, often aided by technical analysis, include the recent increasingly widespread use of macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanning which has led to a raft of new discoveries. The papers in this volume, presented at the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers’ conference “Tales of the Unexpected in Conservation”, look at the unexpected from a variety of periods and places of origin, and from a range of perspectives: practical, technical, historical and ethical. 


Daniela Sauer, Lead Librarian, Conservation Specialist, ICCROM Library