Observation abilities and professional group dynamics in the preservation of museum artworks
Professional group dynamics are envisaged here not in systemic terms – the dynamic whereby one profession or occupation triggers movement in its neighbors and vice-versa – but their interactional dimension. The history of relations between professions is understood to result from observation and from the observation-based actions taken by professional groups and their members. The empirical analysis is focused on the groups engaged in preserving museum artworks. The remarkable transformation of the content of this activity and the cultural and economic policies implemented in France since the 1970s do not suffice to explain the professional dynamics of art restorers and museum curators. On the other hand, taking into account the observation abilities of these professional groups does make it possible to understand how the present aspirations of restorers arose and how, paradoxically, the dominant position of museum curators has been strengthened.