Conservation may be the most central cultural issue of our time. The transition from analog to digital documentation means that the human record itself now faces an entirely new set of preservation challenges. The earth’s climate change makes conservation of physical features into a new political challenge. And all this is happening while artists, practitioners in various fields, and scholars turn to conservation with high expectations for new knowledge about the past.

This one-day symposium addresses the problem of “Extreme Conservation”—both the extremity of the general situation and extremely difficult but information-rich cases of conservation.


Peter Miller, Dean and Professor, Bard Graduate Center
Welcome and Introduction


Matthew Battles, Associate Director, metaLAB, Harvard University
“The Object in Extremis”


Friedemann Hellwig, Professor Emeritus, University of Applied Sciences, Cologne
“Death Camps: The Example of Auschwitz”

Malcolm Collum, Chief Conservator, Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum
“Unexpected Trajectories: Tracing the Evolution of Hardware Used in Space Exploration to Revered Museum Artifacts”



Panel Discussion with Matthew Battles, Petra Lange-Berndt, Isabelle Brajer, Malcolm Collum, Stephen Rustow, and Matthew Siegal