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INCCA Mentoring Programme

Madeleine Berkhemer, ''Garden of Delight II'' 2010, pantyhose, stockings, perspex, glass. Exhibition 'Red' 2010-2011. Curated by Maarten Spruyt, Tropemuseum Amsterdam. Photo: Irene de Groot

The INCCA mentoring programme: connecting and growing together

Many of us in the conservation world have had the good fortune of finding professional mentors, and experiencing the benefits of mentorship. These are numerous and depend on individual relationships, but overall entail: receiving advice and guidance with professional choices, career paths, and/or work matters, help in making connections with colleagues, and advancing our careers in general. However, finding a mentor does not always happen spontaneously, while many established conservators might worry about the time commitment of long-term mentoring schemes.

The INCCA mentoring programme aims to connect emerging conservators, or those new to the  conservation of contemporary art, with recognized and established conservation professionals. It will allow the fostering of meaningful one-on-one mentoring experiences around specific short-term activities, and also the creation of longer-term professional relationships.

As the largest and most active network for professionals associated with the conservation of contemporary art, INCCA is uniquely placed to explore and initiate mentoring opportunities that are well-structured, and will improve the networking benefits for its members and the field.

Initially, the INCCA mentoring programme will consist of two schemes:

Conference presentations

This scheme pairs the mentee with a mentor in the lead-up to, and during, a major conference at which the mentee is presenting a paper or poster: 

  • In the lead up to the conference, the mentor gives advice to the mentee on their presentation and/or poster, giving feedback on the content, format and delivery. This interaction would largely take place via emails, phone calls or video conferencing.
  • During the conference, the mentor takes the mentee “under her/his wing” and makes introductions to other established professionals in the field at the conference, and draws attention to the work of the mentee.
  • After the conference there is no further commitment by the mentor, although it is hoped that a long-term relationship would develop between mentor and mentee.

Speed mentoring

Inspired by and modelled after speed dating, this scheme creates the chance to have short periods of one-on-one time with established professionals in the field, without all the normal distractions associated with conferences:

  • A list of mentors is circulated in the lead up to a conference and potential mentees can book a short individual session (about 10 minutes) with one of them.
  • The session is an opportunity to ask the mentor anything! You can talk about them, about you, or about the field in general. 
  • During this time, nobody will interrupt you, you will not have to pluck up the courage to introduce yourself, or worry about how to get out of an endless or waning conversation! At the end of the allocated time period, a bell will ring, and you will say farewell and allow the next mentee to sit down. 

Benefits of the INCCA mentorship programme

For Mentees

  • Increased networking opportunities at conferences and similar events with a wider group of established colleagues
  • Specific guidance from an experienced professional in relation to a presentation or poster
  • Development of a long-term professional network within the field, often with influential and senior colleagues, to improve career trajectory.

For Mentors

  • Exposure to the emerging talent pool and a more diverse range of thought, style, personality, and culture
  • Satisfaction from imparting wisdom and experience to others in the profession without a huge time commitment – a way to "give back" to the field
  • Ongoing attention to mentor's own career development, and enhancement of coaching, mentoring, leadership, and management skills

For the Field

  • Creation of more inclusive and accessible professional networks
  • Increased opportunities for the development of a strong professional network

Programme history

2019 MARCH A speed mentoring session was organised during the MACCH Conference 2019: Bridging the Gap Theory and Practice in the Conservation of Contemporary Art. 22 conversations took place between 8 mentors and 18 mentees.


2018 NOV To launch the programme, both schemes will were implemented during the International Symposium Acting in Contemporary Art (SBMK summit) in on the 15th of November 2018. 

Read more about the launch in the article from the IIC Newsletter.

Speed mentoring: 10 mentors volunteerd for the speed mentoring session and spoke with 30 mentees. The list of mentors is here.  

Presentation scheme: 7 pairs of mentors and mentees worked on the presentation scheme. The list of mentees, their papers/poster and mentors is here.


If you have question about the mentoring programme please email INCCA coordinator Karen te Brake-Baldock. info@incca.org

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