Standards > Conservation Practice


"Conservation means all the processes of looking after a place so as to retain its cultural significance."

"Conservation is based on a respect for the existing fabric, use, associations and meanings. It requires a cautious approach of changing as much as necessary but as little as possible."

Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 1999, Australia ICOMOS

"[Conservation entails] Hands-on intervention techniques applied to the physical forms of museum, archive, and library materials and objects to achieve chemical and physical stabilization, in order to extend their useful life and ensure their continued availability."

Benchmarks in Collection Care for Museums, Archives and Libraries: A Self-assessment Checklist (PDF format file to download), re:Source, The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, 2002, p. 15

"Conservation: All actions aimed at the safeguarding of cultural property for the future. The purpose of conservation is to study, record, retain and restore the culturally significant qualities of the cultural property as embodied in its physical and chemical nature, with the least possible intervention. Conservation includes the following: examination, documentation, preventive conservation, preservation, treatment, restoration and reconstruction."

"Preventive Conservation: All actions taken to mitigate deterioration and damage to cultural property. This is achieved through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures in areas such as lighting, environmental conditions, air quality, integrated pest management; handling, packing and transport, exhibition, storage, maintenance, use, security; fire protection, and emergency preparedness and response."

D. Glossary, Code of Ethics, Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property
and of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators

"A conservator is someone who is involved in the care and treatment of objects of artistic or historical significance. Qualified conservators are highly skilled practitioners with years of training and experience. Unfortunately, there are also individuals who call themselves conservators but who are unqualified or do not abide by professional standards. Consequently, it is important to be careful in selecting a conservator.

"Conservation treatments can often be complex and may involve some risk to the object. Because a high degree of expertise is required, conservators generally specialize in one particular field such as paintings, books or artifacts. Experts in preventive conservation are usually qualified to provide advice or services for more than one type of collection."

What is a conservator?, Canadian Heritage


AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, 1995, US Secretary of the Interior

New Orleans Charter for Joint Preservation of Historic Structures and Artifacts, American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) and The Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI)


Matero, Frank, "Ethics and Policy in Conservation", Conservation: The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2000, Getty Conservation Institute.

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