Chief Executive's blog: Membership matters

Sara Crofts writes about the value of Icon membership in the February 2022 issue of Icon News

03 Feb 2022
by Sara Crofts

Recognition: If conservators, heritage scientists and related professionals are to be recognised for the importance of what they do and the value of their work to society we need to get better at telling our stories and making our case. We also need to find more people who want to add their voices to ours.

An active and engaged body of emerging and established conservation professionals has the potential to create a very powerful voice. It follows that if our membership is larger, then our work to champion conservation and pursue high standards of professional competence and ethics will become much more visible. And, as a result, we will more quickly achieve the recognition that the profession and our members deserve. Weight of numbers, plus a clear focus on professional standards, will equal greater impact. This ultimately benefits all conservators and collections, and the future public enjoyment of our heritage.

The launch of Icon’s first Student Month in September and our targeted outreach to those starting higher education courses resulted in a gratifying increase in new student members this year. I warmly welcome all new student members to the Icon family. Your learning will certainly be enriched through participating in Icon activities, and in the webinars and events created by our Groups and Networks. I’m sure that you’ll also discover many opportunities to start to build your own professional networks - and you have the opportunity to showcase your projects in our online project gallery.

Collaboration and knowledge-sharing is one of the great strengths of Icon membership. I’d therefore like to celebrate the successful delivery of three major conferences last autumn by our Groups and Networks (Icon Book and Paper Group; the Pest Odyssey team working with Icon Care of Collections Group; and the Icon Ceramics and Glass Group working jointly with the Icon Stained Glass Group). The event feedback has been extremely positive and is a fitting tribute to the brilliant work carried out by the dedicated and passionate organising committees.

I fully recognise that the greatest advertisement for Icon membership is our own talented and diverse members – you! Growing our membership base is important, not just to help ensure financial resilience for Icon, but also to strengthen our voice in the sector.

Put simply: more members = a louder voice and a greater weight to our campaigns.

I also hope that we can broaden the spread of our membership too, reaching out to those who might feel that they are on the margins of conservation. I want Icon to be a welcoming place for all conservators, heritage scientists and the many others who play a role in conservation regardless of their specialism or their working environment; whether they wear a lab coat or steel toe-capped boots and a hard hat; or whether they practise, teach, lead or manage.

Why should I join Icon?

Icon is the professional home for conservators and heritage scientists. We support and develop our members through their conservation careers, and we champion high standards of conservation professionalism to Government, policymakers, employers, and the public. Icon is the place where best practice in conservation is defined and developed. We are also the only organisation that professionally accredits conservators. Our members help to shape the future of the conservation profession and have pledged to work to high standards of professionalism and practice.

As a member, you have access to a large network of experienced professionals, both within your own specialism but also across the many other specialisms. Your contributions directly help to develop the body of conservation expertise, as well as allowing you to nurture your own expertise. You can benefit from the vast knowledge resources available, and you can contribute to them through participation in our specialist Groups and Networks, supporting the Policy Advisory Panel, mentoring, being mentored, or even standing as a trustee.

Membership of Icon is a demonstration of your personal commitment to conservation. Together we can strengthen the profession and attract future talented conservators and heritage scientists to our ranks, safeguarding our cultural heritage for years to come.

Working together as advocates for the conservation profession, we can create a loud and persuasive voice to champion the thoughtful care of cultural heritage, uphold high standards in conservation and attract more colleagues, including those just starting out on their conservation careers, to join us. If you have ideas about we can support you to help Icon to grow and flourish, then please get in touch.


Icon membership benefits

  • Discounted admission to all Icon events including those delivered by Groups and Networks
  • Access to Accreditation, supported by mentoring opportunities
  • Members’ magazine (Icon News) containing conservation case studies, interviews, reviews and analysis
  • Fully peer-reviewed Journal of the Institute of Conservation featuring innovative research on all aspects of the preservation of cultural heritage
  • Weekly Jobs e-bulletin with UK-based and international opportunities 
  • Monthly Iconnect e-bulletin with a roundup of recent stories, news articles and events
  • Online CPD log to track your professional development activity
  • Access to professional development and networking opportunities through Icon’s 16 specialist Groups and 8 Networks
  • Members can gain additional career-boosting skills and experience by volunteering in a range of roles on Icon’s many committees and working groups
  • Members can raise their professional profile through contributing articles for the Icon website, which reach an even broader audience through our thriving social media channels
  • Students are welcome to showcase their work in our online project gallery
  • Discounts on conservation titles published by Routledge
  • Discounts on British Standards relevant to conservation practice