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Sandra Smith
Head of Conservation

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith, Head of Conservation

Earlier this month I went to the UKIC conference, 'Working with the Project Culture', in Liverpool. The various papers highlighted the need for conservators to be able to understand their role within a project team, and to contexualise conservation within a project culture. Organisations such as the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Royal outsource much of their work to private conservation studios and have therefore become quite adept as predicting and costing conservation within a project. National museums, like the V&A, whilst increasingly working within a project culture lag behind our colleagues in these project planning skills. The Collections Services Division has taken a leaf out of project management practice by creating an estimating tool to predict resource requirements across the Division from known and comparable data. Nick Umney, Tim Carpenter and Sue Ridley explain how this tool evolved and how it can be used to assess the impact of projects on the divisional work load and to negotiate for additional resources.

Though we may need to evolve the planning process, involvement with projects is very much part of our lives. Pauline Webber's article shows the conservation input into an international project, Nigel Bamforth gives an insight into the fascinating project that we have been undertaking with the RIBA on their architectural models and plans and Victor Borges and Sofia Marques add their knowledge to the development of this new gallery. Amid this we have been trying to share development in joint research initiatives through a departmental seminar, and we are grateful to David Thickett of English Heritage for providing an external review of the day.

Autumn heralds a new intake of students for the RCA/V&A Conservation MA Course and their biographies, together with those of contract staff and interns, show how departmental numbers are swelling even if it is only for a short time.

Sadly, this is also the point for saying goodbye to some members of the Department; Maria Walklin, Production Editor of the Conservation Journal has left the Museum and her skills have already been missed by the editorial team, who she kept on the straight and narrow with remarkable patience. The second goodbye is to Jonathan Ashley-Smith. Although he technically left the Conservation Department in 2002 to join the V&A Research Department, he remained in contact with Conservation, always offering support and advice. His work for the Museum, the Department and the conservation profession has been outstanding and we will all miss seeing him around the Museum. Our best wishes to them both for a happy and successful future.