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Who we are

Icon raises awareness of the cultural, social and economic value of caring for heritage and champions high standards of conservation.

Find out more about:


Who we are: 

  • An independent charity governed by a Board of Trustees.
  • A membership organisation representing around 2,500 individuals and organisations, including professional conservators, volunteers and owners of cultural heritage.
  • A professional body raising the standards of conservation practice through Accreditation, a Code of Conduct, Professional Standards and Complaints Procedure.
  • A small enterprise with 10 employees offering expertise in membership services, finance, professional development, communication, strategy, policy and advocacy.


Our history:

picture2.pngIcon was founded in 2005, from the merger of 5 bodies: 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. 


Our Advocacy

We’re all about creating positive change:

Advancing knowledge and understanding

Framing policy debates and getting issues on the agenda

Affecting language, rhetoric and endorsements

Influencing actions and implementation of policy


How do we achieve this?

  • Policy responses, meetings, briefings, letters, reports, factsheets, newsletters to increase awareness and encourage a favorable regulatory and funding environment
  • Stakeholder maps, working groups, collective papers, partnerships, collaborations to generate more engagement and better advocacy and create a more widespread understanding and appreciation
  • Policy Advisory Panel, research reports, case studies, newsletters, news stories to rally greater support for a higher quality of practice


Our Strategy and Activities:


Influencing our partners and the public

  • enhancing our visibility with government and policy makers 
  • responding to consultations 
  • undertaking fresh research 
  • designing campaigns to engage partners and the public

Building knowledge, high standards and valuing the profession

  • accrediting professional conservators developing our standards 
  • managing a highly regarded internship programme 
  • delivering professional development programmes 
  • running regular events 
  • sharing publications

Encouraging public awareness and participation

  • tailoring membership offers 
  • engaging with emerging professionals
  • collaborating with partners to diversify workforce  
  • promoting benefits of conservation to society and wellbeing


Our members:

As of 2020, Icon boasts of 2,548 members, 772 Accredited Conservator-Restorers and 475 volunteers, working across the Public Sector (e.g. museums, archives, libraries), the Private Sector - with with 1/3 self employed and over 50 % in microbusinesses (<10 employees) - and the Third and academic sector (e.g. trusts and university departments).

These members participate in 16 Special Interest Groups and 8 Networks and while most work across the UK, our international influence is expanding - with 17.5% of our membership located abroad.


Our Membership Categories:

Accredited Associate Student Supporter

Assessed and reviewed by peers

Subject to CPD recall

ACR post-nominal

Professional conservators

May be working towards Accreditation

Enrolled on a course or undertaking entry-level internship

Passionate about conservation

Keen to engage with the sector


Find out more and become an Icon member here.


Celebrating Our Successes

Over the years, over 180 emerging conservators have kickstarted their careers in conservation through an Icon Internship.

  • Offers an invaluable opportunity for interns to develop their careers, engage with professional networks and develop practical knowledge.
  • Lets hosts focus on what they do best: to provide the experience and skills required for success in the workplace.
  • Introduces a strong understanding of the practical application of Icon’s Professional Standards in conservation.
  • Each intern assigned a dedicated Advisor, who along with the host supports them through the practicalities of the programme and with their professional development.

More information about our internship programme and work on apprenticeships here.

Also, since 2017 Icon has played a leading role in the development of Apprenticeship Standards for the profession.

  • The launch of the government’s Trailblazer Apprenticeships presented an opportunity to formalise vocational entry routes into conservation.
  • Icon convened and supported a representative employer group to design programmes that matched real job roles and skills requirements.
  • In 2019, the Institute of Apprenticeships approved the Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician and Conservator Apprenticeships.
  • The programmes have the potential to enhance sector diversity by making entry routes more accessible.
  • We will work closely with Universities and Colleges in the delivery of the new programmes.



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