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What is conservation

conservation-_windows.jpgWhat do conservators do?

The purpose of all conservation is to facilitate the public’s access to and enjoyment of our cultural heritage

  • There are many aspects of conservation, including investigation, preventive care, remedial treatment, packaging, display, cleaning, repair and restoration
  • Conservators are trained professionals who combine scientific skills with knowledge of art history, architecture, changing fashions and lifestyles to understand the context of the objects they work with, and to conserve them sensitively and appropriately
  • Conservation is a highly collaborative activity, at times calling on owners,
    curators and scientists to fully understand an object

Preventive Conservation

Conservation practice aims to prevent damage from occurring. This is called ‘preventive conservation’. The purpose of preventive conservation is to maintain, and where possible enhance, the condition of an object, as well as managing deterioration risks, such as handling and environmental conditions.

Remedial Conservation

Remedial conservation varies from the smallest repair to full-blown replacement or restoration.

Principles of remedial conservation include doing as little as possible (‘minimal conservation’) and the concepts of ‘reversibility’ or ‘re-treatability’. The aim of the treatment is to avoid changing the object in such a way as it cannot be returned to its previous state.

Find out more about a career in conservation 



Photo: Matt Wreford; uncredited