Antiques restoration

A conservator-restorer is a professional responsible for the preservation of artistic and cultural artifacts, also known as cultural heritage.[1] Conservators possess the expertise to preserve cultural heritage in a way that retains the integrity of the object, building or site, including its historical significance, context and aesthetic or visual aspects.[2] This kind of preservation is done by analyzing and assessing the condition of cultural property, understanding processes and evidence of deterioration, planning collections care or site management strategies that prevent damage, carrying out conservation treatments, and conducting research.[1] A conservators job is to ensure that art object's cultural heritage in a museum's collection are kept in the best possible condition, while at the same time, serving the museum's mission to bring art before the public.[3]

Conservation and restoration

Essentially, the term "conservation," means a manner of care or treatment where the goal is to repair damage while taking action to prevent or slow down further deterioration of an object.[4] The term "restoration" refers to a manner of care or treatment where the goal is to bring an object back as close as possible to its original appearance or function.[4] Restoration can be part of the care and treatment of an object and is a subset of the umbrella term conservation.[4] Both terms come into play when it comes to the treatment and care of all cultural heritage.

Responsibilities and Duties

Conservators and restorers care for, manage, treat, preserve, and document many different historical items including artifacts, art, and specimens.[5]


Knowledge and skills

Education & Training

Undergraduate & Graduate Education

Conservators can receive training through apprenticeships, internships and graduate programs. In order to be accepted into a graduate program, they will need to fulfill some undergraduate prerequisites. This includes undergraduate coursework in science, the humanities (art history, anthropology, and archaeology), and studio art.[1] Some graduate programs may also require internship, volunteer, apprenticeship, or paid conservation experience.[1] Many may also require a personal interview where candidates are asked to present a portfolio of art and conservation project work that demonstrates manual dexterity and familiarity with techniques and materials.[1] Graduate programs generally require two to four years of study, which can also include a full-time internship in the final year where students work under the guidance of experienced conservators.[1] There are also a limited number of Ph.D. programs for advanced study in conservation.[1] Conservation related programs can be found on webpages/websites from AIC, the National Council for Preservation Education(NCPE), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA).[1]

Post-Graduate Fellowships

Post-graduate fellowships have also been cited as valuable experiences in their professional development.[1] These fellowships provide intensive research, practice, and exposure to diverse professional staff or significant collections.[1] A few institutions that offer fellowships include the Getty Foundation, Smithsonian/Museum Conservation Institute, Straus Center/Harvard University Art Museums [1]

Continued Professional Development

The specialty of conservation is ever-changing and evolving, which means that practicing conservators must stay up-to-date of advances in technology and methodology.[1] Conservators usually expand this/their knowledge through reading publications, attending professional meetings, and enrolling in short-term workshops or courses.[1] AIC offers many workshops, conferences, and online courses and tutorials. Conservation OnLine (CoOL) also offers resources for conservation professionals.[1]

Areas of Specialty

Some conservators specialize in a particular material or group of objects, such as archaeology, ceramics and glass, furniture and wood, gilding and decorative surfaces, historic interiors, metals, paintings, paper and books, photographic materials, stained glass, stone and wall paintings, textiles, sculptures, and architecture.[1][6]

Ceramics conservation


The primary goal for conservators and restorers is the preservation of cultural property. In order to achieve this goal, conservators abide by a code of ethics and guidelines that establish the principles that guide conservation professionals and others who are involved in the care of cultural property. An example of a Code of Ethics [7] and Guidelines for Practice [8] were created by the AIC (American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works). One of the most important principles in a conservator's code of ethics is that treatments should be reversible, which means that one must be able to undo any treatment in the future.[3] Conservators strive to only minimize interventions and not completely alter an object during restoration. Conservation focuses on the material aspects of art, and respect for original materials remains a crucial element of the field's ethics.[3]

Professional Organizations


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Careers in Conservation. (2014). Retrieved from
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Defining the Conservator: Essential Competencies. (2003). Retrieved from
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Neuman, R. (2011). MFA Highlights: Conservation and Care of Museum Collections. Boston, MA: Museum of Fine Arts.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Landry, G. (2000). The Wintertbur Guide to Caring for Your Collection. Winterthur, Delaware, DE: Winterthur Museum.
  5. Baker, G. D. (2015). How to Become a Museum Conservator. Retrieved from
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Johnston, L. (2013). Museum/gallery conservator job description. Retrieved from
  7. Code of Ethics. (2014). Retrieved from
  8. Guidelines for Practice. (2014). Retrieved from

External links

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