Hi! I’m Ana Alba and I’ve been asked by Heather Brown to contribute to the ECPN blog about our local conservation group here in the DC area! The Washington Conservation Guild has been an important local resource for conservation in the DC area since 1967. I joined as soon as I moved into the area as an intern and now play a more active role in the organization as a Director and soon to be intern coordinator. Heather asked me some specific questions about the organization and I’m glad to tell you a little more about it.
1. When, why and how was the group founded?
WCG was founded in 1967 to promote the increase and exchange of conservation knowledge. There is a wealth of information on the how our group was founded in our September 2007 newsletter. There is a four-newsletter series on the history of the Guild, by decade, starting with that newsletter.
2. What regions do you cover?
WCG is based in Washington, D.C., and draws its membership primarily from Washington, Maryland, and northern Virginia. Members represent a wide cross-section of the conservation community and allied professions. They work in government, state, and private museums, studios, and laboratories, and other cultural and academic institutions and organizations.
3. How many members does the group have?
We currently have 230 members.
4. Are there any restrictions on membership?
No. All interested people can join.
5. What is the cost of membership and what does that fee cover?WCG membership benefits include monthly receptions and meetings (October through May), a quarterly newsletter, a membership directory, website and email announcements of local activities and job openings, intern/fellow activities, volunteer opportunities, free admission to special lectures, and reduced registration on WCG-sponsored workshops and events. The membership year runs from July 1 through June 30.
6. Is there a discounted fee for students?
Yes. The student fee is 20.00. Additionally, WCG’s Sidney S. Williston Memorial Fund provides up to five interns/fellows with free membership in the Washington Conservation Guild. Intern supervisors must apply on behalf of the student and in return, elected interns must assist at the monthly meetings and prepare meeting summaries for the upcoming WCG newsletter. (The meeting summaries are also an easy way to add a publication to your CV, by the way.)
7. Are there opportunities for emerging conservators to become more involved?
Definitely! This year Kristin DeGhetaldi was the intern coordinator. I will be replacing her next year and will come up with lots of tour opportunities and visits to local institutions. Also, we try to do monthly happy hour meetings to give local interns a chance to make friends, connect and talk about their experiences. At one of our monthly meetings we host intern talks, where local interns and fellows have the opportunity to present their current research.
Interns and fellows can also volunteer time at WCG’s Angels Projects. Angels Projects are created to pair local collections that need assistance with local conservators. This past November the WCG Angels took over the National Park Seminary to re-house, document and archive paper records belonging to the group Save Our Seminary (SOS)! This non-profit organization is a dedicated group of volunteers, who bring public awareness to the National Park Seminary through tours, research, public lectures and more. It’s a great opportunity to get some hands on experience and meet people along the way.
8. What kinds of events do you hold and how often?
The Washington Conservation Guild holds meetings from October through May each year, usually on the first Thursday of the month from approximately 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Most meetings are held at metro-accessible cultural institutions in the D.C. area. Meetings usually consist of a social hour (with hors d’oeuvres and drinks) followed by an illustrated lecture or tour of interest to conservation professionals. Meetings are free of charge to members, $5 for non-members.
9. Would any of your members be interested in joining the ECPN mentoring program?
Probably. Having met with and worked with many of the WCG members and knowing they’ve helped train many interns and fellows along the way, I’m sure that they would be open to this sort of one-on-one mentorship program. In any case, a friendly email can get you a long way. WCG members are generally very helpful and full of good advice.
10. What is the most special thing about your guild?
Few places in the world have this many museums in such close proximity to one another and this means… you guessed it… lots of conservators. Members aren’t only from institutions. WCG brings together conservators in private practice, conservation scientists, or other related specialists. The atmosphere that this provides fosters sharing ideas, collaboration, talking about projects, and networking.
Much of the information I provided in this overview was taken from the WCG website: http://cool.conservation-us.org/wcg/
Additional questions can be directed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for this opportunity to share!