With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Research in Information Technology Program, ConservationSpace was launched as a project to develop an open-source software application that will address a core need of the conservation community for a shared solution to the problem of documentation management. The conservation community has long recognized that a digital approach to managing its documentation would improve continuity in procedures, increase access, expand research opportunities, and better ensure the preservation of its documents.
The range of issues raised by conservation documentation in digital form was largely defined and documented through a series of meetings funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Museums and Art Conservation Program, from 2005 - 2008, and attended by representatives of North American and European art museums. For documentation, transcripts, and publications related to these meetings see: http://mac.mellon.org/issues-in-conservation-documentation
The Design Phase of the project was undertaken in 2009 by ODAI (now YDC2), with Ken Hamma as project manager and Meg Bellinger as PI. This first phase included two community design workshops held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the National Gallery of Art, London, respectively. Key stakeholders in the museum conservation field, as well as those representing other collecting institutions, and independent conservators and agencies, took part in the workshops. Sixty-four conservation professionals from the United States, Europe, and Australia representing forty-nine distinguished organizations participated in the workshops. The full range of area and media specializations in the field of conservation were represented. The focus of the workshops was on the work that conservators do and the documentation and scientific data that are generated, managed, stored, shared, and preserved as a result of conservation activities.
In the fall of 2010, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. with additional support from Mellon and the commitment of a group of institutional partners, including Yale University, began a one-year project to define the technical requirements and scope of work associated with the development of ConservationSpace.