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AMIEN: The Art Materials Information and Education Network

Artists now have access to a centralized repository of information to assist them in making intelligent choices about the materials they use. This newly created resource is The Art Materials Information and Education Network (AMIEN). Its mission is to provide comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate and impartial information about artists’ materials to artists, art historians, conservators, educators, organizations interested in the subject, and the general public. Two areas of focus are to provide these groups with access to regular educational programs in materials education and conduct materials research.

AMIEN is freely accessible via e-mail, telephone, ordinary mail, fax, and through its stand-alone Web site. The Web site, which launched in December 2006, hosts a forum for discussion and publishes papers of interest to its constituents. In addition, AMIEN plans to publish short articles and pamphlets in printed formats for distribution to its clients. All Internet services are free, while other services have a nominal fee to cover costs.

AMIEN is co-directed by Albert Albano, Executive Director of The Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA) and Mark Gottsegen, artist, educator and author. Albano and Gottsegen have had extensive experience in art conservation, materials education, and interactive assistance for artists. Their spheres of interaction and communication encompass the entire art world of artists, conservators, art historians, conservation scientists, and the manufacturers of art materials.

Albano has worked, lectured, and published in the field of art conservation and preservation since 1976 as a conservation apprentice to Orin Riley, paintings conservator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; graduate of the Cooperstown Graduate Conservation Program; Associate Conservator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Senior Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and Director of Conservation at Winterthur Museum and Garden, DE.

Gottsegen is a graduate of The University of Rochester and Boston University, where he studied with Philip Guston and James Weeks. Mark has been a drawing and painting teacher since 1976 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a writer and researcher about art materials since 1975 [The Painter’s Handbook (revised, expanded, and illustrated), 2nd Edition, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2006, is the latest edition]. He has been a member of ASTM D01.57 on Artists’ Paints and Related Materials (ASTM International) since 1978 and Chairman since 1994, has given numerous public talks regarding art materials since 1980, and has participated in symposia and on panels across the US and in Europe.

AMIEN will continue research programs begun by Gottsegen in 1978 in partnership with ASTM International (the American Society for Testing Materials), state and federal government agencies/groups, and private foundations, as well as initiate new research.

The creation of this resource was inspired by the Co-Directors’ observations of the current state of materials information access. Art materials education, once a vital part of a young artist’s training, has been severely curtailed. New materials used for the creation of artwork are being introduced at a rapid rate. In addition, artists are constantly choosing new materials outside the traditional range of art materials and have limited resources for understanding their properties. Until the late 1990s, most information about art materials was found in books, which were often inaccurate or already outdated by the time of publication. With the advent of the Internet, information about materials can be circulated but there is no impartial mechanism for verification of posted statements from artists or manufacturers. Other vital information is published in venues not readily available or known to artists, such as the journals of the American Institute of Conservation (Washington, D.C.) and the International Institute for Conservation (London, UK).

AMIEN is a non-profit organization under the auspices of the Intermuseum Conservation Association’s 501 (c)(3) structure. The ICA is the nation’s oldest regional art conservation/ preservation services provider. Founded in 1952 at Oberlin, Ohio, the ICA has made significant contributions in conservation and preservation education and research (www.ica-artconservation.org). ICA Association membership has included the region’s largest collecting institutions. Its current membership is comprised of more than 44 museums and historical societies, and it provides conservation consultation and services to numerous other clients. Its staff of over 20 full-time and adjunct conservators, technicians, and support staff are capable of treating the entire gamut of works of art: works on paper, books, paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, and objects. Now located in a National Historic Register building near downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the ICA has significantly increased its visibility and its accessibility.

1 AMIEN is a non-profit part of the Intermuseum Conservation Association, 2915 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44113 USA p 336-707-3647, f 336-334-5270, www.amien.org

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