Preservation organisations - The Ultimate Table

This article was last updated on: February 4th, 2024

Disclaimer: Please note that the resource presented in this article is neither evergreen nor perfect. Prices and group details may change over time. Some may become inactive while new ones may arise. There may be some mistakes. I will do my best to keep it updated and correct, but please do your own research before making decisions on what to join. Also note that I am obviously not a member or am even personally familiar with all of these groups. Just because a group is on this list does not mean I can openly recommend or endorse them. Again, please do your own research. I am an active member of some of these organisations, but I do not have board or decision-making positions in any of them. I cannot vet the information presented below and have not been paid by anyone to put any group on this list. If you are in the directory of any of the groups in this list and see a mistake, please feel free to send me a message and I will happily update it.

Preservation organisations for success

One of my favourite things to do is compile resources for public use. There are tons of things out there. There is a lot of information. However, if you are new to the field, or simply new to the place you are in, you might just not know what's around. Where do you even look? Are you going to trawl the internet for weeks of your life to figure out what to do next? Will you post on Facebook groups and the distribution lists? Yeah, you could.

I've done that before. Or I could get us all started and do it for you to avoid the constant re-trawling every time you forget. Essentially, I like making stuff I wish I had and then sharing it because why not? It's already done. Maybe one day I will start charging, but until I decide to do that I recommend you take advantage of me haha. It is also my hope and intention that this list will help you find colleagues around the world with whom you would like to collaborate - knowing a group exists may be just what you need to get you started!

After the pretty amazing success of my previous giant table with Masters Conservation programs around the world (with prices, details on internships, employability success rates, links, duration and specialties, etc.), I thought we needed a new table to help us all navigate the world of preservation. This last table was so successful that I had spontaneous volunteers from around the world messaging me asking me to add programs or fix certain details. It became a crowdsourced content table - which is really the best kind because it spreads the load of work. Thank you again to all you cool cats out there who sent stuff in.

So I decided we should try this again one more time and have started us off with almost 70 preservation organisations of all sizes from around the world - just to whet your appetite and see if some of you love this resource enough to help us all make it huge! If we get a super nice list, I can eventually think about turning it into an Airtable or something more sophisticated with tags and filters. Excited? Please share on socials and tag me with your thoughts so I know I'm not the only nerd who likes making Excel tables of practical information.

Why should I join a preservation organisation?

This is a good question, because, you know what? Joining organisations is a budget issue sometimes - especially if you are joining a big, national one. You need to pick and choose who will get your allocated membership money for the year and why, especially if you intend to do this year after year. But the thing is, it's my personal opinion that you should join something. Even if it's only one, even if it's the cheaper, small, local option. Why? Here are some reasons why joining a preservation organisation is important for your career:

  • You meet people. Networking is essential. There are jobs that are offered first to people you know are available. Just as with every other career in this world, many jobs are never posted or advertised. Why? Because not everyone works together well. If you had a chance to hire something for a very important but short project, would you rather pick from your pool of people you know and trust or find a rando you've never heard of? What if they're unreliable? What if they're unpleasant? What if they're just not what you need now? If you are yourself the rando helping yourself with sidegigs, sidegigs are rarely found in places where you apply for them formally. Sidegigs come through people who know you or have heard of you. Sidegigs come from people who want to work with you directly and for them to do that, you have to meet them first - and they have to know you're on the market.
  • You get important resources. Of course, the number of resources you get may be tied to how expensive your membership is. Things cost time and money to make - and yes, that includes volunteer time. And yet, even small, free, organisations can have a host of resources if its membership is active and dedicated. What kinds of things will you get? Forums, job boards, newsletters, peer-reviewed journals, conference opportunities, webinars, free courses, discounts to related products and services, etc. Often times, people in organisations have things they are literally giving away and just want someone who is willing to pick the thing up - so they will send a group-specific message offering there first before they open the offer to the rest of the world. Sometimes, jobs show up in forums and newsletters that you would have never found out about on mass internet job boards - I won't name them, but you can guess the typical ones. Wouldn't you like to be in the know about that? So again, people are a resource. When you get connections, you are getting resources. The colleagues you can like, trust, and depend on will be one of the most valuable resources in your toolbox. But we shouldn't talk about people as if they were things, so let me rephrase: you may be making lifelong friends who will be worth so much more to you over time than the membership fee you paid to meet them.
  • You learn a lot. Especially if you become an active participant in your organisation, this can be as a committee or board member, or perhaps a volunteer for a particular thing or section, you will learn how organisations work. You will learn about whichever particular task you have volunteered for. You will learn about working with others when everybody else has other priorities. You will practice patience and improve your soft people skills - both big deals when applying for institutional jobs. If you are young and starting off, you will learn from your more experienced peers. If you are experienced, you will get updated information from your younger members. If you are the type of preservation organisation that is not specific to particular types of degrees (e.g. only conservators, or only registrars), you will learn a lot about the work of your colleagues. And here's another suggestion from me... if you are a conservator, go ahead and join, or at least keep tabs on, organisations for other people like registrars or archvists. This goes the other way around too. Find out what your peers are doing, what they care about, what worries them in their day-to-day job. This is valuable information.
  • You give back. Giving back is important. Preservation professionals work in a field where money is neither plentiful nor evenly spread. Getting clients is not easy. Buying raw materials is not cheap. If you are not in a big institution, it's hard to get stuff. It's hard to attend expensive events. You don't have staff, you don't have materials, you don't have access to resources that are not already freely available. When you join an organisation, you can pool your resources and work together to give something back to the community. If you were lucky enough to get into conservation school in spite of the cost and competition, or were skilled in business and set up a private pratice that works well enough to sustain you, or have an instutional job with benefits that pays for resources others can't afford, or have managed an excellent social media brand - you have something to help others. Just about anything you have learned to do can help someone else in some way or another. Although giving your time is, in a way, giving money - it's time you could have been using to make money doing something else, this doesn't mean your contributions have to be strictly monetary. Give what you can when you can, and you will be making a difference for the better. If your field gets better for everyone, that's better for you too. If we all help build what we wish we already had, we'll have a very different field very soon... or... you know, sooner than never.

Other things to consider before choosing the right preservation organisation for you

Depending on where you are in your career or even where you are geographically, different organisations will have different sizes and types of resources for its members. Depending on what kind of stuff you want to get, one type may be better than another. For example...

  • Are you looking for a local group you can meet for in-person events or a support group where you can exchange material resources and share working spaces? Small and regional is better for this unless your large national group has well-organised regional subgroups that would work for this.
  • Are you looking for a new job or do you intend to advance your career goals? Perhaps networking at a national or international level will be more appropriate.
  • Do you prefer large groups with many arms and committees capable of organising large annual conferences? Go big.
  • Are you interested in publishing your articles in an indexed journal? Probably better to go for the bigger ones but not a bad idea to start with your local organisation bulletins if you are still starting out and building your confidence.
  • Are you an emerging student? Big or small will work, the wider you cast your net, the more likely you'll meet the perfect mentor - but going big means they probably won't be driving distance from you.
  • Do you need sponsorship help to join? While smaller organisations may have these, you are more likely to find financial support with bigger groups.
  • Are you already somehwat established and just need to find colleagues for collaborations? Either will work depending on your specific goals. If you are looking for things like grant information, for example, or access to analytical equipment, you're probably better off going big.

Brief note on exchange rates

For the sake of simplicity and so that you can actually compare on the same footing, I have converted all prices to USD based on the exchange rate around Dec 21st, 2023 - which is when I started working on this table in earnest:

1 GBP - US$ 1.27
1 EUR - US$ 1.10
1 CAD - US$ 0.75
1 AUD - US$ 0.68
1 NZD - US$ 0.63
1 MYR - US$ 0.22
1 BRL - US$ 0.20
1 INR - US$ 0.012

The table of preservation organisations

Without further ado, here is the very incomplete, but hopefully, ever-growing table of preservation organisations. Please don't be afraid to send me messages about mistakes and missing groups. I am sure there will be tons, of the latter, hopefully not the former. You can see I have a specific column at the very end of the table that will indicate whether the information for each group has only been retrieved from the public website or if someone in that group has actually confirmed the info. This will help everyone be sure which information is fully correct and which is an educated guess.

Unless otherwise specified, all membership fees are annual.

Link to the full spreadsheet.

What did I miss?

Naturally, I've probably only just scratched the surface. If there is anything wrong and you know you know the correct information, let me know! If your organisation is not there at all, let me know! Have things changed since I first released this post? Please reach out to me through any of my social media or through my contact form on this website and let me know. I will happily update when I get a free minute. As you must be aware, I run this website on my free time. Thanks for your support and patience!

A couple updates and acknowledgements

For those of you wonderful, generous souls who would like to contribute to growing this table, I have created a new editable Excel sheet where you are free to add, edit, and update information for everyone's benefit. Please be aware that this is not the original file. I have done this to prevent the original information from being corrupted or accidentally deleted. I will copy the information in this editable sheet to the master sheet presented above periodically

I want to explicitly thank all of you who have reached out to me in one way or another with encouraging comments about this article and its associated table. I am grateful for your patience where I may have got information wrong. I am happy to correct it where necessary. I am very pleased that this article will save a lot of you a lot of time and I feel proud of our profession - so many of you are selflessly offering me your time to add more groups to the table.

So thank you again, and let's keep making resources for everyone! -->

If you liked this post, sign up for my newsletter so you can get the latest articles straight into your inbox.

Subscribe to my conservation newsletter

This is My Friend, The Conservator, a newsletter about Art conservation, museums and the heritage world.