The Application Process
The application process for CAPC accreditation is straight-forward. It consists of :
A. Submitting an application package and portfolio
B. An interview with an applicant-approved peer review panel to discuss the portfolio.
A. The application package must contain
a completed application form http://capc-acrp.ca/Applformeng.pdf (much of the information required may be on your CV)
a portfolio with condition reports, proposals and treatment documentation, etc. for at least five projects that represent the area (or areas) for which you are seeking accreditation;
three independent letters of reference;
proof of Canadian citizenship (??);
degree or diploma from conservation training institutions (if applicable);
a $50 non-refundable application fee for each accreditation speciality, Make cheque payable to "CAPC Treasurer"
B. Examination Interview with Peer Review Panel
Examination interviews are usually scheduled during the annual CAC conferences, which are held in May or June
A Board of Examiners that is selected for each portfolio review must meet the applicant's approval.
Qualifications for membership and more detailed information about the accreditation process can be found at: http://capc-acrp.ca/bylaws_regulations.asp#MEMBERSHIP
Please send your complete application package to the CAPC Membership Chair, c/o CMA, 280 Metcalfe Street Suite 400, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1R7
All documents pertaining to an application are treated as confidential.
Accreditation in Conservation:
The Canadian Experience
Published in: ICOM Committee for Conservation
11th Triennial Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1-6 September 1996,
1, James & James,
London, page 153-157.
Carole Dignard, Secretary
and Michaela Keyserlingk, Membership Chair,
of Professional Conservators
280 Metcalfe Street, suite 400
Ottawa, Ont. K2P 1R7
accreditation, certification, professional, association, eligibility,
Canada, Canadian Association of Professional Conservators
The Canadian Association of Professional
Conservators (CAPC) is a professional accreditation body incorporated
under the Canada
Corporations Act. This paper discusses the structure of CAPC's
peer-review accreditation mechanism and how the association
While there are very few countries
with established conservation accreditation schemes in place,
many are now exploring ways of
setting up professional accreditation systems. Canada has
had a professional
accreditation programme for conservators in effect since 1971
and the authors of this paper hope to contribute to the dialogue
taking place in the international community by describing our
context and how the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators
2. The Canadian Context
Although a small conservation community has
existed in Canada since the 1930s, the field expanded tremendously
beginning in the early
1970s when unprecedented financial support was directed at the
conservation and museum community by the federal government. At
the time there
was a lack of existing organizational infrastructure in the field
and a large scale search for conservators, to fill newly created
positions and government funded laboratories, was ongoing. This
unique early environment resulted in widespread community concern
establishment of definitions and standards and was instrumental
in the evolution of an association dedicated to accreditation in
at that early time.
The Canadian Association of Professional Art Conservators (CAPAC,
whose name was later changed to the Canadian Association of Professional
Conservators or CAPC) was established in 1971. Its aims were to
define and maintain standards of professional practice, to promote
of these standards among conservators, clients, and custodians,
and to provide a voice for Canadian conservators on conservation
Membership was restricted to those who successfully completed an
examination through peer review. CAPAC was instrumental in, among
other things, the establishment of the first Canadian university
training programme at Queen's University in 1974.
of the Canadian conservation community, established in these early
years, was the International Institute for Conservation
- Canadian Group (IIC-CG). Unlike CAPC which has professional entrance
requirements, this association is open to any individuals or organizations
interested in conservation. Its role is to promote communication
within the field and to disseminate information through conferences,
training workshops, a scholarly journal, a newsletter and ad hoc
committees on relevant issues.
CAPC and IIC-CG were established with
mutually supportive roles and have collaborated closely on a number
of important projects, including
the publication of the Code of Ethics and Guidance for Practice
for Those Involved in the Conservation of Cultural Property in
(1986, 1989) and the establishment of conservation internship grants
through federally funded programmes. Discussions regarding the
possible amalgamation of the two organizations have taken place
in the past,
but careful consideration has, to date, favoured the benefits of
two independant organizations serving complementary functions.
It is always possible that this question will be discussed again
the future and that a new structure might evolve.
Today the community consists of approximately 400 people, including
educators, students, technicians, conservators and conservation
scientists. It is estimated that the IIC-CG membership represents
about 75% of
those active in conservation in Canada. The CAPC membership represents
approximately 20 to 25% of conservators who meet CAPC eligibility
3. CAPC Structure
is a non-profit corporation administered by a Board of Directors
consisting of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer,
Member-at-large and, since 1995, a Membership Chair, all of whom
are elected and serve two year terms. In addition, since 1995 the
Past-President is an ex-officio voting member of the Board of Directors,
a change intended to enhance continuity of experience at the Board
of Directors level. All Directors serve without remuneration. Although
successful in the past in obtaining grants from the federal government,
notably through the federal Museums Assistance Programme, CAPC
is self-supporting and depends on revenues generated through
fees to support the costs associated with processing applications.
is a summary of CAPC's membership categories and accreditation
mechanism. The CAPC Membership Directory describes these in greater
detail and is available on request.
3.1 Categories of Membership and
Areas of Specialization
There is one membership category, that of the "Professional
Member", and two sub-categories, namely, the "Conservator" and
the "Conservation Scientist". Professional members are
accredited in one or more area(s) of specialization. These include
the traditional specialties such as paintings, textiles, objects,
etc, as well as management, education, mixed collections, preventive
conservation and others. The applicant specifies his/her area(s)
of specialization in his/her application.
3.2 Prerequisites for Membership
An applicant must satisfy the following basic eligibility requirements:
- he/she must have received training in conservation through an
academic training programme, apprenticeship or some other
form of training
- he/she must have a minimum of six full years of experience in
conservation including training and practice, or at least 3 years
of conservation practice
after graduation from a college or university conservation training programme.
- he/she must have demonstrated an active involvement in the conservation field
during at least four years (e.g. through professional interaction with other
conservators or through membership in conservation associations).
- he/she must be currently active in the field of conservation and either a
Canadian citizen, a landed immigrant, or a practitioner working principally
Submission of an Application
The candidate must submit a formal application which includes a completed CAPC
membership application form, supporting documents to confirm training (such
as transcripts of formal conservation training, if applicable) and experience
as letters of reference or letters of confirmation of work experience), and
an application fee (currently CAN$50). A further examination fee of $100 is
if the applicant successfully passes the examination, which also covers the
fee for the first year of membership.
Applications received by the association are
processed in strict confidence by the Membership Committee, following the association's
Rules and Regulations Governing
Membership. The Membership Committee's role is largely administrative and,
among other duties, serves to pre-screen applicants for basic eligibility
The committee is also responsible for assembling a suitable Board of Examiners
for each applicant (subject to the approval by the Board of Directors), and,
in general, facilitating the processing of applications.
3.4 Examination by a
Board of Examiners
The examination is a peer review evaluation in which a Board of Examiners assesses
the application and portfolio, and interviews the applicant. The process is
fully described in CAPC's Rules and Regulations Governing Membership and is
to anyone who expresses interest in joining CAPC. The Board of Examiners consists
of at least four peers, two of whom are experienced in performing these examinations,
and at least two who are specialists in the applicant's field (see 3.6 Constitution
and Duties of the Board of Examiners). The aim of the examination is to establish
the applicant's professional competence and ability to take full responsibility
for the initiation and execution of conservation projects of a practical, scientific
or managerial nature. It is designed to assess the applicant's knowledge, abilities
and ethical principles.
There are two major areas covered in the assessment.
The first concerns general knowledge and principles common to all professionals
in the field of conservation,
such as: effects and control of the environment; basic care, handling, storage
and transportation of cultural property; ethical principles, including the
relationship of the conservation profession to society, the cultural object,
or owner of the object, the originator of the objects and the conservation
profession itself. The second area covered in the assessment concerns knowledge,
and standards of practice specific to the applicant's area/s of specialization,
and normally includes: cultural and historical significance of the object;
examination techniques; documentation procedures; materials of the object;
fabrication of the object; conservation materials and processes; possible
effects of treatments on objects; relevant literature; organization
and design of appropriate
workspace; health hazards, safety and precautions; insurance responsibilities;
The assessment is done through the following methods:
a) Examination of a portfolio
of five to ten conservation projects or case histories for which the applicant
has been responsible. The actual number of projects included
in the portfolio may vary depending on the magnitude and complexity of the
projects submitted. The applicant is asked to submit projects that
are recent, that are
representative of his or her range of conservation experience and that illustrate
the level of documentation maintained.
b) Consideration of three letters of reference
attesting to the quality of work, methods of practice, and work experience,
c) Assessment of publications, where relevant.
d) Assessment of the applicant's
conservation facilities, described in the applicant's application. If the applicant
does not have a laboratory, he/she must demonstrate
knowledge of laboratory related issues, including basic facilities, equipment,
tools and supplies for the applicant's field of specialization, adequate equipment
for the types of work undertaken, acceptable level of security for objects,
health and safety concerns, and so on.
e) A one to one and a half hour interview with
the Board of Examiners, where
all of the above information is discussed and reviewed.
The Board of Examiners may request additional information during the application
process including: additional documentation on projects; additional letters
of reference; or the holding of an in situ examination of laboratory facilities
and work in progress.
3.5 Laboratory Visit
Until 1995, the examination process required a visit to the applicant's
laboratory or studio facilities, in order to assess the work
environment and work in progess.
This was done by two persons, at least one of whom was a member of the Board
of Examiners, and one who was experienced in the applicant's area of specialization.
However, the cost of continuing this practice as a matter of routine has become
prohibitive. As of February 1996, the laboratory visit has become an optional
component of the examination. The applicant is now asked to describe his facilities
and work in progress in the application form, portfolio, and interview, and
if, after the interview, a member of the Board of Examiners
feels that a lab visit
would be of further use in assessing the applicant, then a lab visit is arranged.
Constitution and Duties of the Board of Examiners
The Board of Examiners consists
of at least four experienced members of the conservation profession, as follows:
a) Two Standing Members. These examiners are responsible
for ensuring that the examination follows CAPC Rules and Regulations Governing
Membership and that it is carried out in a consistent manner. All Standing
Members are designated annually by the Board of Directors from
among CAPC members who
have experience with other CAPC Boards of Examiners. The Chairperson of the
Board of Examiners must be one of the Standing Members, and must
have served on a minimum
of three previous Boards of Examiners. b) A minimum of two other ad hoc members.
These examiners need not be members of CAPC. They are appointed on the basis
of expertise to ensure that the applicant's area of specialization is adequately
Members of a Board of Examiners are proposed
by the Membership Committee and
approved by the Board of Directors. They must sign an oath of confidentiality
upon appointment. Their duties involve assessing the applicant's eligibility
for membership as demonstrated through the application and portfolio; conducting
the examination interview; determining if a lab visit is necessary and if so,
how it will be conducted; providing the Board of Directors with a written report
of the examination; providing a list of recommendations regarding possible
areas of improvement; recommending if the applicant should be admitted
to the Association,
and in which category and area/s of specialization.
The number of examiners on
Boards was reduced in 1996 from "at least 5 members",
to "at least 4". The main reason for this was to make the process less
costly and to improve efficiency. After a review of CAPC's Boards of Examiners,
it was felt that a minimum of four examiners were necessary to ensure fairness
to each applicant. It is now possible, under exceptional circumstances, for teleconferencing
of one member of the Board of Examiners. Another major change, implemented in
September 1995, is that the President or Vice-President need not be a member
of each Board. In the past, this was viewed as necessary to ensure a uniform
level of assessment on all Boards. However this obligation was extremely demanding
on the President's time and decreased the efficiency of the processing of applications.
The association now relies on the two experienced Standing Members per Board
of Examiners, for continuity in the examination process.
3.7 Admission of Applicants and Appeals
The Board of Examiners submits its report
and recommendations to the Board of Directors of CAPC. Only under exceptional
circumstances would the decision of
a Board of Examiners not be ratified. The applicant is informed by letter and
receives a membership certificate. If the Board of Examiners recommends against
the admission of an applicant, and the applicant is dissatisfied with the explanation
given, he or she can request a meeting with one of the Standing Members of
the Board of Examiners to review the findings and recommendations.
If the applicant
is still dissatisfied after this meeting, he or she may appeal directly to
the Board of Directors.
4. Benefits to Clients, to the Community and to Members
Membership in CAPC demonstrates
that a practitioner has achieved a recognized level of competence, as acknowledged
by the peer review process. This can be
useful for employers, clients and the museum community who may rely on the
professional association to provide a means of recognizing qualified
CAPC produces a Directory of Members which it distributes widely to those enquiring
about conservation services in Canada and has produced a brochure promoting
the understanding of the CAPC professional designation, aimed at
collectors and custodians.
CAPC does, however, recognize that there are many qualified practitioners in
Canada who are not members of CAPC and has collaborated with IIC-CG in the
joint production of the brochure entitled Selecting and Employing
a Conservator in
Canada aimed at guiding custodians of cultural property in selecting a conservator.
Other joint CAPC/IIC-CG outreach brochures are in the process of being produced.
CAPC also regularly responds with comments and suggestions to government initiatives,
task forces and other policy papers regarding government museum and cultural
issues, when required.
CAPC has a formal complaint mechanism in place.
If a client (or other) is dissatisfied with the work carried out
by a CAPC member, he/she
may appeal to the association
for a review of the member's competence and ethical judgment. There are clear
procedures in the association's Bylaws which may be found in the Membership
Directory. If the complaint is found to be without justification,
the member is exonerated;
if the complaint is found to be minor, the member is notified of the perceived
deficiency and advised to upgrade his/her standards; if the complaint is more
serious, in addition to the previous, the member is censured and warned that
future violations could lead to revocation of membership; and finally, if the
complaint is a major violation of the code of Ethics or a repeated violation,
then membership is terminated.
Individual members may benefit in different ways
from their association with CAPC. Those in private practice or regularly seeking
new contracts may benefit
from a professional designation that employers and clients in Canada increasingly
recognize as important. Conservators without formal academic training may benefit
from the endorsement that CAPC accreditation can provide for them. And finally,
all conservators and conservation scientists, in all situations, benefit from
the increased professionalization of the conservation field in Canada. Some
work is ongoing to provide group insurance and other practical
member benefits, and
collaboration with IIC-CG on internship training programmes and other projects
of direct relevance to the conservation community will continue.
The most important
beneficiary, however, is the Canadian museum community and the cultural heritage
in question. Im maintaining a membership dedicated to high
standards of practice and the promotion of the understanding of the need for
the use of skilled professionals by all custodians or owners of cultural property,
CAPC is first and foremost committed to safeguarding our cultural heritage
for the future.
has been accrediting professional conservators for 25 years. New
pressures for efficiency and cost effectiveness in our structure
and procedures have led
to the most recent refinements of the original peer review process first established
in 1971. All procedures are fully described in the CAPC literature and can
be made available upon request.
Note: all CAPC publications are published in
English and French.
of Professional Conservators, 1995, Canadian Association of Professional Conservators
- Information for Collectors and Custodians, Ottawa.
(5 page leaflet)
Canadian Association of Professional Conservators,
1993, Canadian Association of Professional Conservators Membership
Ottawa, 64 pp. [Includes
CAPC's Bylaws and Rules and Regulations Governing Membership]
Institute for Conservation - Canadian Group and Canadian Association
of Professional Conservators, 1989, 2nd edition, Code of Ethics and Guidance
for Practice for Those Involved in the Conservation of Cultural Property
in Canada, Ottawa, 20 pp.
Ramsay-Jolicoeur, Barbara A., 1994, "Accreditation in Conservation:
Professional Status", in Journal of the IIC-Canadian Group, vol. 19, pp
International Institute for Conservation - Canadian Group and Canadian Association
of Professional Conservators, 1989, Selecting and Employing a Conservator in
Canada, Ottawa. (7 page leaflet)