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Re: Closing up shop

         Hello, Ed,

         As a very new user of the Internet and as a very new
         subscriber to Micat-L I am saddened by the news that this
         service will be no more.  Professionally, I am a conservator
         at the Division of Conservation, National Park Service,
         Objects Laboratory.  Privately I am a violin maker,
         specializing in Baroque instruments.

         My roles cross the lines of conservation, restoration,
         and making, and as such, I believe I have some understanding
         of the points of view of both conservation and restoration.

         I strongly adhere to the view that many fine old instruments
         have been seriously compromised by restorers with no intimate
         knowledge of approporiate techniques and/or styles.  i have
         also been in museum collections which have been damaged by
         artless restorers, unknowledgable collections managers, and
         inappropriate use of historical instruments.  For instance, I
         know of one very prominent institution that let a favored
         player use a very fine 18th C. violin for ten years, allowing
         that individual to keep it at home and have it repaired as
         necessary at his favorite shop, making whatever alterations
         he wished.

         If museums have any purpose, it is to provide a record of our
         cultural and material history.  For that reason they must
         rightfully protect the resources entrusted to their care.  It
         is perhaps because of the excesses ofthe past that curators
         and conservators now feel especially protective of their
         collections.  Once an instrument has been damaged or altered
         from the original,historical evidence is lost permanently,
         often at a cost we cannot appreciate unitl a later time.  The
         cavalier approach used by 19th C. violin restorers serves as
         a good example of information lost.

         Although extremes exist in any discipline, I believe it is
         probably wise to err on the conservative side, which seems to
         be the swing of the pendulum these days.  The issues of
         appropriate use of historical instruments, collections
         accessability, and conservation treatment and documentation
         are all subjects under intense review in major institutions
         with musical instrument collections right now.  CIMCIM, the
         musical instrument committee of ICOM, the International
         Council of Museums,publishes papers dealing with these issues
         and attempts to provide a forum for understanding.

         As I got information re your list through CIMCIM I assume you
         are a member.

         Don't get me wrong.. I am not a pedant.  I am very happy that
         fine violinists have available all the great instruments of
         the 17th and 18th centuries.  I love to hear music played on
         original instruments.  I am also aware that some instruments
         are less able to withstand the rigors of performance and that
         judgment has to be exercised if the historical evidence is to
         be preserved.

         All of the above is an effort to put some of this in
         perspective.  The tone of your note indicates that you are
         feeling really down about the whole area of musical
         instrument conservation.  Ultimately, I think we all have to
         give a little more than we would ultimately like.  Time will
         tell if it is to the good.

         What do you think?



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