Contemporary Art Conservation Revisited: 20 years later

This international two-day symposium celebrates the 20-year anniversary of the HKB’s contemporary art conservation program and will reflect on evolving roles and practices in the field.

27.01.2022 bis 28.01.2022 – online + live streaming (Grosse Aula, Fellerstrasse 11, Bern)

The contemporary art conservation program’s launch was a response to changing contemporary artists’ practices and a commitment to the preservation of artworks outside traditional disciplines, embodying unconventional technologies and materials. The necessity of a different approach to care for and treat these works of art is reflected in its curriculum, incorporating methodologies and techniques from social sciences, affirming the importance of documentation as a preservation strategy, and corroborating the significance of artistic concepts within a decision-making process.

Looking back on the last 20 years, we can observe shifts in the field of contemporary art conservation, which compel us to (re)define our roles and question existing structures and modes of operating. A variety of perspectives and positions will reflect on these developments, both pioneering and recent, and will serve as the foundational framework to consider new tools, new skills, and new thinking needed within the field and our training programs.

Advisory Board

  • Carolin Bohlmann (Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien)
  • Christine Frohnert (New York University)
  • Gunnar Heydenreich (TH Köln)
  • Sanneke Stigter (University of Amsterdam)

Organizing Committee

  • Martina Haidvogl
  • Martina Pfenninger Lepage
  • Dörte Doering
Visual for the symposium, black, white, violet


2 pm


Sebastian Wörwag, Bern University of Applied Sciences 

Establishing a New Specialty: Modern Materials and Media 

Stefan Wülfert, Bern University of the Arts 

Retracing our Path

2.25–3 pm

20 Years Later: Contemporary Art Conservation at the HKB 

Martina Haidvogl & Martina Pfenninger Lepage, Bern University of the Arts 

(Re)thinking the Conservation of Contemporary Art 30 Years on 

Hélia Marçal, University College London 


3.20–4.25 pm

Contemporary Art Conservation in the Netherlands: Looking Back 

Sanneke Stigter, University of Amsterdam & Ijsbrand Hummelen, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands 

Development of the Field of Contemporary Art Conservation in Europe and the US 

Christine Frohnert, New York University 

Focus on Sustainability, Collaboration, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Conservation 

Glenn Wharton, University of California, Los Angeles 


Changing Roles

16.45–17.45 pm

Be Kind Rewind 

Agathe Jarczyk, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

The Role of the Conservator in the Conservation of Public Art  

Christine Haynes & Rowan Geiger, Preservation Arts 

Caring for Living Plants in the Museum – An Ecosophical Perspective 

Coline Ardouin & Martina Pfenniger Lepage, Bern University of the Arts 


6.10–7 pm 

Panel: Advocacy in Conservation of Contemporary Art 

Moderation: Martina Haidvogl, Bern University of the Arts 
Panelists: TBA 

New Ways of Caring

2–3.05 pm  

Caught between Protection and Exposure: Entropy and Exhibition-making in the Age of Climate Crisis 

Rebecca Lewin, Serpentine Galleries 

Evolving Concepts of Care and Prevention for Contemporary Art Collections in Contemporary Institutions 

Aga Wielocha, M+ & Christel Pesme, Heritage Conservation Center 

A Rare Animal? Being a Contemporary Art Conservator in Special Collections and Archives 

Rachel Rivenc & Melissa Huddleston, Getty Research Institute 


New Ways of Working

3.20–4.30 pm

New Ways of Working: Thoughts and Observations of an Emerging Time-Based Media Conservator 

Rea Grammatikopoulou, State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart 

A Framework for the Systematic Recording of Media Artworks and their Generational Changes at the Kunsthaus Zürich 

Eléonore Bernard & Tony Kranz, Kunsthaus Zürich 

Building a Media Art Collection – Challenges and Strategies 

Sabine Himmelsbach & Claudia Röck, House of Electronic Arts 

Replication and its Role in the Care of Contemporary Artworks 

Stephen Huyton & Alexandra Nichols, Tate 


New Ways of Collaborating

4.45–6.05 pm

Caravan Chaos: Collegial Consultations as the Counter Pressure to the Art Market in Private Practice 

Carien van Aubel, Private Practice & Joy Bloser, The Menil Collection 

The Long-term Artist-Conservator Engagement: Conservation and De-creation in the Artist’s Archive 

Nicole Collins, Artist & Ruth del Fresno-Guillem, Private Practice 

Conservation Practices from the Artist’s Studio 

Diego Mellado Martínez, Studio Daniel Canogar 

Shirin Neshat’s Passage: Embracing Collaboration and Interrogating Boundaries in Contemporary Art Conservation 

Martina Haidvogl, Bern University of the Arts & Peter Oleksik, Museum of Modern Art 


Looking Forward

6.20–7 pm

In Conversation 

Jill Sterrett, Arts and Cultural Heritage Advisor & Pip Laurenson, Tate

7 pm

Evening Reception at Buffet Nord, Bern Academy of the Arts

Address: Fellerstrasse 11, 3027 Bern, Switzerland

> please RSVP at Registration

The symposium will be streamed in the aula (Grosse Aula) of the Bern Academy of the Arts, Fellerstrasse 11, 3027 Bern on both days.