The CRCC team
The Center for Research on the Preservation of Collections (known by its French initials, CRCC) is the successor of the Center for Research on the Conservation of Graphic Documents, founded in 1963 at the French National Museum of Natural History (Official Bulletin, 2 July 1963, N° 153). It was initially created to respond to the need expressed by Julien Cain, the National Library administrator, who hoped to find a remedy for the biological degradation that was jeopardizing collections of books and documents after the war. A team was instituted, spearheaded by Françoise Flieder – director of research at the CNRS – until 1998, and subsequently led by Bertrand Lavédrine (Professor at the NMNH).
Over time, in response to growing demand from heritage-related institutions, the unit broadened the scope of its research to include objects made of leather, photographs, cinematographic film, magnetic supports, synthetic materials and natural history collections… This latter category – utilized as supports for scientific studies, whether for research, or as testimony to biodiversity in ecological or environmental studies, or for cultural and pedagogical purposes in the life sciences – once placed on display for visitors in exhibitions or at other events designed to popularize science, have hardly benefited from any serious study as to their material preservation. It was therefore important for the team to get actively involved in this field of enquiry.
The research conducted within the CRCC is always targeted, designed first and foremost to provide new tools and solutions to the heritage community and preservation practitioners so as to ensure optimal conservation of scientific, technical or cultural heritage. Indeed, some of this work is funded through tender processes, contracts, subsidies and endowments from the heritage institutions or cultural entities concerned. However, if new knowledge is to be acquired – knowledge that will make the identified applications possible – it is crucial to delve further into the theoretical aspects behind the degradation mechanisms and even to develop new analytical methodologies that are tailored to the specificity and constraints of heritage objects, taking the imperatives of sustainable development duly into consideration.