News from the Conservation Lab — Working Remotely and Conserving Ourselves

By Suzanne Davis, Curator of Conservation

Hello, blog readers. I hope you are happy, healthy, and staying safe. This past week felt like about six, huh? It did to me. Work has changed at the Kelsey, as it has at many workplaces around the world. A small example — I usually work here:

conservation_lab-web

And now I’m working here:

kitchen-desk-web

It’s a little bit different. Not least because my cat feels that humans in the home should equal very frequent snacks for cats. He’s like, “Look lady, we both know you’re sitting right by the treats cupboard. Would it kill you to serve more snacks? All you’re doing is sitting there like a lump. Look alive and give me more of those #$@%! fish crunchies already!”

Conservators’ main job is to preserve cultural heritage for the future, so it’s reasonable to wonder how I’m doing it from a small corner of my kitchen while trying to ignore Flash Kitty. Truthfully, I’m doing conservation-adjacent work, as are most of my colleagues around the country. Here’s a sample of things I’ll be doing over the next few weeks:

  • Recording guest lectures about conservation for colleagues’ classes
  • Taking professional development webinars and online courses
  • Writing up research into publishable journal articles
  • Preparing grant applications
  • Planning future projects
  • Catching up on all the professional reading and newly published research I usually only barely have time to skim

Other conservators I know are recording the oral histories of senior colleagues, writing up treatment and research protocols, and contributing to conservation-focused wiki entries.

It’s also kind of a stressful time right now. Many of us are either at high-risk of serious complications from COVID-19 or have loved ones who are. So please follow public health advice in order to conserve yourselves and those who are more vulnerable than you are. AND there are things you can do to preserve your mental health and reduce stress. Below are the activities I find most useful.

  • Exercising: walking outside, jumping rope, doing yoga or high-intensity body weight exercises at home.
  • Relaxing: UCLA’s mindfulness awareness research center has free guided meditations I like, here.
  • Connecting with friends and family: I’m not normally a big fan of talking on the phone, but I’m learning to like it now!
  • Making stuff with my (carefully washed) hands: conservators will be the first to tell you how satisfying it is to do hand work; we do it for our jobs and most of us love it and miss it if we’re away from it too long. Now might be a good time to take up a handicraft or invest time in one you’ve already got going. There are lots of online videos if you want to learn something new and supplies can be ordered, probably even from your local shops.

Wishing you good health,

Suzanne

3 thoughts on “News from the Conservation Lab — Working Remotely and Conserving Ourselves

  1. Mama Don 03/19/2020 / 12:35 pm

    Enjoyed the blog. It seems everyone is staying very busy despite the social distancing.

  2. Homedika 03/19/2020 / 7:14 pm

    The success of panda conservation in recent years owes much to the dedication and determination of Chinese and international researchers working with the governments, universities and conservations organisations, such as WWF. By spending countless hours monitoring and researching, they have been able to develop an accurate picture of the panda’s population status and current threats, and formulate effective measures that have reversed the panda’s decline. Ongoing research and monitoring of pandas and their fragile habitat will be vital to ensuring that the conservation successes of the past few decades are not undermined. And that giant panda numbers continue to recover. Camera traps are a critical research tool because of the difficulty of locating pandas in their remote, mountain habitat. The cameras are triggered by movement and, along with GPS technology, are helping to create a more accurate picture of the number of pandas in the wild.

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