Learning from Mistakes


This platform centralizes resources relating to how and why we make mistakes, and it aims to cultivate understanding of why it’s important to talk about and learn from mistakes when they do occur. 

Lifelong learning is an integral part of our profession. Let’s build a healthier culture together that empowers us to speak openly about our mistakes and learn from one another. 


In 2017, AIC’s Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) held a webinar titled “Picking Up the Pieces: Accepting, Preventing, and Learning from Mistakes as an Emerging Conservation Professional.” With momentum from the webinar, some of the organizers and participants subsequently published an article titled “Oh, $#*%! Making Mistakes—and Learning from Them” in the March 2018 issue of AIC News. This led to the conception of an event at the AIC Annual Meeting to provide a broader venue for conservation professionals of all career stages to share mistakes and normalize this type of discussion. The inaugural “Mistakes” session, formally titled “A Failure Shared is Not a Failure: Learning from Our Mistakes,” was held at the 2018 AIC Annual Meeting in Houston and has since been reprised annually. When the 2020 AIC Annual Meeting went virtual, so did the Mistakes Session; a recording can be found on this page and AIC’s YouTube channel.

We invite you to explore content relating to these events and to the broader theme of making mistakes - including TED talks and articles - in this self-guided learning module. 

Please reach out if you know of additional resources to add to this list.


A Failure Shared is Not a Failure, AIC/SPNHC 2021
Recorded 06/14/2021
Recorded 06/14/2021
A Failure Shared is not a Failure, AIC 2020
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 A Failure Shared is not a Failure: Learning from our Mistakes brings AIC members from all disciplines together to share their mistakes, accidents, bad planning, and even disasters that they have experienced, regretted, and most importantly, learned from over their careers.
Picking up the Pieces: Accepting, Preventing, and Learning from Mistakes, ECPN Webinar 2017
Recorded 01/26/2021
Recorded 01/26/2021 This ECPN webinar took place on April 7, 2017. Pressure to avoid mistakes, particularly during treatment, can hamper discussion within the field of conservation regarding how to actively prevent and recover from setbacks. Although it is unfortunate when they occur, acknowledging that mistakes are fundamental to learning can be especially crucial to the development of early-career professionals. This webinar aims to provide a greater understanding of the most common causes of errors, tips for minimizing the probability of mistakes, and strategies for dealing with setbacks. ECPN has invited a panel of four speakers to explore this topic: Michele Marincola, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Conservation of the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Tony Sigel, Senior Conservator of Objects and Sculpture at the Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard Art Museums; Ayesha Fuentes, PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and Geneva Griswold, Associate Objects Conservator at the Seattle Art Museum. For more information, including speaker bios, visit AIC's blog at http://bit.ly/2mFZnhU.
The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 This TEDxHouston talk took place in June 2010. Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
Listening to Shame by Brené Brown
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 This is a TED Talk from 2012. Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
Doctors Make Mistakes. Can We Talk About That? by Brian Goldman
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 This talk was presented at TEDxToronto 2010. Every doctor makes mistakes. But, says physician Brian Goldman, medicine's culture of denial (and shame) keeps doctors from ever talking about those mistakes, or using them to learn and improve. Telling stories from his own long practice, he calls on doctors to start talking about being wrong.
Making Mistakes, TED RadioHour Podcast
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 Mistakes happen — and when they do — how do we deal with being wrong? In this episode, TED speakers look at those darker moments in our lives, and consider why sometimes we need to make mistakes and face them head-on.
Conference: Failure: Understanding Art as Process, 1150–1750
Recorded 01/27/2021
Recorded 01/27/2021 Learn from videos from the International Conference on Failure: Understanding Art as Process, 1150–1750. Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florenz, organized by Ariella Minden, Alessandro Nova, and Luca Palozzi. The conference was held virtually on November 5-6, 2020.

Join us for the 6th Annual Mistakes event during the 51st AIC Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, taking place on Saturday, May 20th starting at 4:30 pm. We are excited that the event is returning to the closing session slot, and a cash bar will be available! The session will also be available to live-stream for those attending virtually. 

Formally titled "A Failure Shared is Not a Failure, Learning From Our Mistakes," the event invites professionals from all conservation disciplines to join together over lunch to hear speakers share stories of mistakes, mishaps, accidents, and failures. This session aims to promote a healthier professional culture and cultivate understanding of why it’s important to talk about and learn from mistakes.