Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art
 “Connecting to Collections” to focus on saving museum, library collections

(May 14,2007 – Bridgeport)      Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art has been invited to participate in Connecting to Collections: The National Conservation Summit to be held June 27-28, 2007 in Washington, DC. Only four representatives, two from museums and two from libraries, from each state and the District of Columbia have been selected to attend this invitation-only national conference sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The event will underscore the risks that endanger America’s books, works of art, documents, and other treasures and promote solutions for saving them. 
 “Those who have been selected to attend the summit have a strong commitment to conservation and are among the best people in the country to spearhead a national conservation initiative,” said IMLS Director Anne-Imelda Radice, Ph.D. “After the summit, we hope that the conversation about saving invaluable collections will continue in communities across the U.S.”

Participants in the meeting represent small and medium-sized museums, libraries, and historic organizations with a proven dedication and commitment to conservation. They will be joined at the meeting by national leaders in conservation, government officials, and leaders in private sector support for conservation.
The Housatonic Museum is housed in the Housatonic Community College campus in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  It is comprised of two galleries totaling over 2,000 square feet.  The collection is composed of outstanding examples of 18th, 19th and 20th century art, as well as ethnographic objects from Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

The museum was founded in 1967 by the late Burt Chernow.  Mr. Chernow was a professor of art and art history at the college, as well as an avid art collector.  During his tenure at the college, he amassed an extensive collection of over 4,000 pieces of art, featuring masters such as Picasso, Renoir, Rodin and Dali.  Mr. Chernow is credited with building the museum's unique collection into one of the most valuable permanent collections of any two-year college in the country.  The museum's permanent collection is valued at over 11 million dollars with a substantial portion of our permanent collection on display throughout the college campus. Five years ago, the director of the Museum began an initiative to address the conservation needs of the museum and a conservation program was developed.

Heritage Preservation, the national organization devoted to preserving America’s heritage, is cooperating with IMLS to organize the summit. Heritage Preservation’s 2005 report, A Public Trust at Risk: the Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections,revealed that there are 4.8 billion artifacts held in this country’s archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies, many of these in small to medium sized towns and cities. The report said that 26 percent of collecting institutions have no controls by which to protect their valuable artifacts from temperature, humidity, and light; 59 percent have had their collections damaged by light and 53 percent have had damage by moisture. In addition the report showed that 65 percent of the country’s collecting institutions have experienced damage due to improper storage.

The conservation summit will also be supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The summit is being co-hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit