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About us

The Institute of Conservation

A membership organisation and charity which brings together those with a passion for the care of cultural heritage.

  • Icon’s vision is for cultural heritage to be valued and accessible and for its future to be enhanced and safeguarded by excellence in conservation.
  • Icon raises awareness of the cultural, social and economic value of caring for heritage and champions high standards of conservation
  • We represent nearly 2,500 individuals and organisations. Icon’s membership incorporates not only professional conservators and conservation scientists, but also volunteers, heritage professionals and many others who share a commitment to improving understanding of and access to our cultural heritage. Most of our members are UK-based but many also work internationally.
  • Conservation of cultural heritage protects the things we value for now and for the future. It enables the care and safeguarding of the tangible cultural heritage, from a cherished family heirloom to a national treasure, such as the Staffordshire Hoard. The practice of conservation encompasses artworks, architecture, archaeology as well as industrial, natural and social history collections whether they are held by museums, heritage organisations or other private or public collections.

Our Charitable Objects are:

  • To advance the education of the public by research into and the promotion of the conservation of items and collections of items of cultural, aesthetic, historic and scientific value; and
  • To preserve and conserve items and collections of items of cultural, aesthetic, historic and scientific value.

Find out more about Icon's vision in the Icon Strategy 2017-2021


The History of Icon

The Institute of Conservation was created in 2005 from the merger of: The Care of Collections Forum, The Institute of Paper Conservation, The Photographic Materials Conservation Group, The Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration and The United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Between 2005 and 2016, Icon owned The Chantry Library - a collection of publications concerning paper and book conservation, established in 1999 by Mrs Beatrix Chantry in memory of her daughter, Judith. In 2016, ownership passed over to the Oxford Conservation Consortium. Read more about The Chantry Library here.

Photo: Icon intern c. Matt Wreford

Icon’s Values

We will:

Work with integrity
We are open and honest and do what we believe is best for our shared cultural heritage, the public and our members.

Be inclusive
We value diversity and ensure that opportunities are open to all those who want to care for our heritage.

Be forward-looking and outward-looking
We keep our eyes on the horizon and on the world around us

Be ambitious
Both for our organisation and the things we believe in

Be collaborative and generous
We work with our members and partners to share learning and achieve the best results together

Uphold high standards
We value, support and promote the expertise and professionalism of our members and partners