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JULY 19-21, 2023

Hosted by the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU,

and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Welcome to ABM 2023, a forum to foster dialogue and collaborations for biological material studies in cultural heritage collections. Our aim is to bring together a balanced community of specialists to discuss current collaborations and share ideas for the future.


As in our ABM 2021 and 2018 meetings, we will be exploring the intersection of innovative science, culture, and history, and hoping to gain new insights that will advance our understanding of objects and their preservation. Let's get started!


The core principles that characterize the Art Bio Matters meeting are:

Equal participation of specialists from the core ABM disciplines (science, conservation, and cultural history/curatorial) and other stakeholders involved in the preservation or research of cultural and natural history.

Curiosity and willingness to learn about unfamiliar specializations.

Respect and appreciation for the valuable contribution of all ABM disciplines to cultural heritage research in order to identify vital areas of study and focus resources.

Willingness to openly debate the strengths and weaknesses of analytical approaches as they relate to research questions of conservators and cultural historians/curators.

Candid discussion of logistical and aspirational aspects of past projects to improve future ones.


Important Dates

May 10, 2023

Deadline extended for submission of abstracts for consideration as team presentations and/or posters. Please see specific guidelines for each category.

May 21, 2023

Deadline extended for application to register for participants.

May 26, 2023

Notification of acceptance of presentations, posters, and participants.

July 12, 2023

Deadline for submission of pre-recorded presentation video for limited time post-ABM community dissemination.

July 19-21, 2023

ABM 2023 event hosted at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and The Met


Meeting Format


Team Presentations with discussion



Join us at Art Bio Matters 2023, a unique and intimate conference where all attendees actively participate in five sessions over three days. Our format includes working groups, a business meeting crucial to the future of the ABM community, and moderated conversations in small breakout groups to encourage discussion, networking, and brainstorming. We value open and respectful dialogue, where everyone's voice is heard and all viewpoints are respected. To ensure a successful conference, we ask that you come ready to engage in active discussions and promote future research in these exciting directions.




Lightning rounds


Business meeting


Working Group sessions


The goal of this meeting is to foster dialogue and collaborations for the future of biological material studies in cultural heritage collections. Attendees must actively engage in all three days of the the meeting. The Steering Committee ensures a balance of disciplines by choosing attendees who are informed and curious stakeholders in various stages of their careers.

Attendees must be willing to help create content during the meeting that can facilitate the growth of the ABM website and community. To this end, please indicate in the Application which Working Groups you are interested in joining during the conference.

Team Presenters

Eight Team presentations will be selected from submitted abstracts. Each 30-minute presentation can focus on a project at any point of completion, as long as it addresses a question regarding biological materials that is driven by a specific object or collection. All presentations must have at least two or a maximum of three speakers: at least one to present the questions which drove the project (coming from conservation or cultural history/curatorial) and the other(s) to present the challenges of scientific analysis of the biological material. There will be an additional 10 minutes at the end for Q&A. For greater inclusion of the ABM community, a pre-recorded version of the presentations (due July 7, 2023) will be made available only through the ABM Slack channel for a limited time after the meeting. At the meeting, team presenters will facilitate a preselected breakout session conversation in small groups (up to ten participants). After the meeting, team presenters are expected to help create content from their research that can be shared in some capacity on the ABM website.

Line drawing over three people working together around a laptop

Poster Presenter

Posters will be selected from submitted abstracts. While posters can have one or more authors, only one author must be present and will give a short (3-minute) summary during the Lightning Rounds. Posters will also be made available only through the ABM Slack channel for a limited time after the meeting. At the meeting, poster presenters will facilitate one small group breakout session conversation (up to ten participants), which will give poster presenters a chance to further discuss and address questions about their work. After the meeting, poster presenters are expected to help create content from their research that can be shared in some capacity on the ABM website.

Line drawing of a person presenting in front of a board


To ensure productive discussions and collaborations for the future of biological material studies in cultural heritage collections, it is essential that all participants attend every day of the event and actively engage in all presentations, discussion sessions, working group sessions, and the business meeting. Conference participants are making a commitment to contribute to the growth and advancement of the ABM community. Your active involvement will help foster an environment of shared learning and collaboration, which will ultimately benefit the broader community of cultural heritage stakeholders.

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Funding Sources

All financial support is made possible by funding from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.


Registration Fees

There is no registration fee to attend ABM 2023.


Travel Award

A small pool of travel funding is available for those who need it. Limited funds are available to reimburse attendees for travel costs. Everyone is welcome to apply for a travel award, as we aim to bring together a diverse group of attendees from different disciplines, geographies, institutions, and career stages. We will distribute funds based on both need and level of interest in the meeting.


Graduate Student Assistants

To support graduate student attendance, five paid positions are available to assist in conference activities including running registration; acting as scribes for the breakout sessions, working groups, and business meeting; preparing the discussion recaps; assisting attendees; and generally facilitating the conference. These positions are intended to provide funds to graduate students for active meeting support and will pay $330 for 12 hours of work during the conference. Please indicate your interest in these positions on the Application.



Why do I have to apply to register for ABM 2023?

To support Art Bio Matters' core value of inclusive participation through a balance of disciplines, we ask all participants to submit an application. The Steering Committee will evaluate the applications with the aim of building a diverse and enthusiastic group for this small, focused meeting. Team presentations and poster presenters will be selected from submitted abstracts. By limiting the conference size and waiving registration fees, we aim to attract a dedicated and enthusiastic group who can engage in productive discussions and exchange insights.

Who is attending?

The composition of the meeting requires equal representation of conservators, cultural historians/ curators, and scientists. All presenters and participants must “Apply to Register.” The Steering Committee will select participants to achieve a balance of disciplines.

I'm not sure if my topic of interest falls within the scope of ABM. What constitutes biological materials?

Biological materials found in cultural heritage include any medium used in artwork that is derived from plants or animals (wood, leather, bone/ivory, feathers, silk, wool, paper, or parchment—just to name a few!). The organic constituents of paints, coatings, and adhesives would also apply. Microorganisms living on or within heritage objects are also of interest, as they relate to increasing knowledge and/or preservation of an object. If you're still not sure whether your topic falls within the scope of ABM, feel free to inquire with before submitting your application.

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