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National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC)

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...

Pushing the Conservation Agenda: A Conversation with Lawrence Reger, GCI Newsletter 10/1, 1995

Since 1988 Lawrence L. Reger has been President of the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property. He was Director of the American Association of Museums from 1978 to 1986, after serving in several senior policy positions,including General Counsel at the National Endowment for the Arts from 1970 to 1978. He has consulted with a range of foundations and cultural organizations on management, fund-raising, and long-range planning. Mr. Reger holds a law degree from Vanderbilt University, and from 1964 to 1970 he practiced law in Lincoln, Nebraska. He spoke with Jane Slate Siena, Head of Institutional Relations at the Getty Conservation Institute.


Jane Slate Siena: Your commitment to the arts at the national level began in 1970 when you came to Washington to help run the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).


Lawrence Reger: It was early in the Nixon Administration, just six months after the appointment of Nancy Hanks as NEA Chairman. It was a dynamic and pivotal time in American culture. The Abstract Expressionist movement had happened, dance was flourishing, and there was a sense that the federal government could play a role in stimulating exciting artistic activity. We took advantage of this convergence of creative activity and dynamic political leadership to bring the Endowment close to its present plateau in terms of budget and scope of programs...

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