National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC)

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NCAC Report on the Concept of a National Institute for Conservation

In July, 1978, NCAC released a “Discussion Paper on a National Institute for Conservation of Cultural Property.” Based on approximately five years of deliberation by the Council and several study committees, the document identifies three major categories of services - information, education, and scientific support - that a national institute might provide, and suggests specific activities within each category. Copies of the “Discussion Paper” were circulated to more than two thousand individuals and organizations with major concern for or programs in the conservation of collections.


This document is a compendium of the most pertinent comments and suggestions offered in response to the “Discussion Paper” and of ideas expressed at six public discussions with conservation-related membership organizations. It raises concerns and answers questions that have surfaced during the last thirty months of concentrated deliberation on the issue of establishing a national institute for conservation in the United States. The narrative that follows should be considered in conjunction with the 1978 “Discussion Paper;” it is intended to supplement the ideas presented in that document.

NCAC Dialogue on the Issue of a National Institute for Conservation

“Historical Perspective

The National Conservation Advisory Council has been unjustly credited by some members of the conservation profession in the United States with developing the concept of a national institute for conservation of cultural property and forcing the creation of such an agency on the conservation profession. In fact, the idea for such a national institute was first born in 1955, eighteen years before the founding of NCAC in 1973. As is noted in the historical outline that follows, the creation of a national institute for conservation was the brainchild of farsighted Americans, active in the conservation profession, some of whom are now deceased.” May 6, 1980

NIC Awareness Study - Gallop, 1996

The Gallop Organization was commissioned by NIC to conduct a public opinion and awareness study to: 1) examine public attitudes toward the functions and responsibilities of institutions dedicated to the preservation of cultural property: museums, libraries, and historic houses; and 2) assess the level of broad public involvement in cultural preservation, either through patronage and membership in these institutions or through personal care of heirlooms. A secondary goal is to probe awareness levels of four cultural preservation programs and resources.