What is Conservation?

whatisconservation310wideConservation in the museum setting describes a range of practices involved in the preservation and maintenance of artistic and historic objects. The conservator’s goal is to preserve the original object and uphold the artist’s original intent. To do this, a conservator may employ the following procedures: 

→ Examination of the object to assess the condition and the properties of the object as well as causes of deterioration.

→ Documentation, written and photographic, of the condition before, during, and after treatment as well as details of treatment/materials used.

→ Preventive conservation to minimize further deterioration or damage by stabilizing the environment.

→ Treatment of the object to stabilize its condition, slowing the process of deterioration; to repair damage incurred during its life; and to restore its appearance.


After their training period, most often in graduate school, conservators usually choose a specialty such as paintings, three-dimensional objects, or works of art on paper.
Conservators draw upon a variety of disciplines in their training and work, including studio art, art history, chemistry, physics, materials science, mechanical engineering, environmental science, and biology.

For more information about the field of art conservation, you may wish to explore the website of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).