Treatment > Introduction


Consider all components of the preservation process; undertake detailed assessments; and then develop a Record of Decision (ROD) stating rational and justification for specific treatment recommendations for a proposed project based on a detailed understanding of each treatment and its potential effect on the collections and its stewardship.

The Record of Decision, along with all supporting records, must be reviewed and approved by the Conservation Department before initializing any treatment.


"Effective cultural resource management serves to (1) integrate cultural resource concerns into other park planning and management processes, (2) avoid or minimize adverse effects on cultural resources, (3) provide information for interpretation and public understanding, and (4) identify the most appropriate uses for cultural resources and determine their ultimate treatment..."

Introduction, A. Cultural Resource Management, 2. Planning, NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, National Park Service

"All managerial, financial and technical considerations applied to retard deterioration that prevent damage and extend the useful life of materials and objects in collections to ensure their availability. These considerations include monitoring and controlling appropriate environmental conditions; providing adequate storage and physical protection; establishing exhibition and loan policies and proper handling procedures; providing for conservation treatment, emergency planning and the creation and use of surrogates."

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

"Treatment: All direct interventions carried out on the cultural property with the aim of retarding further deterioration or aiding in the interpretation of the cultural property. A treatment may range from minimal stabilization to extensive restoration or reconstruction."

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

"Decisions regarding which treatments will best ensure the preservation and public enjoyment of particular cultural resources will be reached through the planning and compliance process, taking into account:

  1. The nature and significance of a resource, and its condition and interpretive value;
  2. The research potential of the resource;
  3. The level of intervention required by treatment alternatives;
  4. The availability of data, and the terms of any binding restrictions; and
  5. The concerns of traditionally associated peoples and other stakeholders.

"Except for emergencies that threaten irreparable loss without immediate action, no treatment project will be undertaken unless supported by an approved planning document appropriate to the proposed action.

"The preservation of cultural resources in their existing states will always receive first consideration. Treatments entailing greater intervention will not proceed without the consideration of interpretive alternatives. The appearance and condition of resources before treatment, and changes made during treatment, will be documented. Such documentation will be shared.... Pending treatment decisions reached through the planning process, all resources will be protected and preserved in their existing states…

"Although each resource type is most closely associated with a particular discipline, an interdisciplinary approach is commonly needed to properly define specific treatment and management goals for cultural resources. Policies applicable to the various resource types follow."

Chapter 5: Cultural Resource Management, 5.3 Stewardship, 5.3.5 Treatment of Cultural Resources, 2001 NPS Management Policies, National Park Service

"...French archaeologist A.N. Didron (1839) set down a dictum which has since become so familiar that present-day conservationists sometimes think it is a recent statement: "It is better to preserve than to restore and better to restore than to reconstruct." This hierarchy of values was formally recognized in the code of ethics concerning treatment of historic architecture produced by UNESCO in 1964 and known as the Venice Charter. Since the 1960s, conservationists in various countries have devised national charters based on this principle. One of these is the Appleton Charter [Appleton Charter for the Protection and Enhancement of the Built Environment] , formulated by the English-speaking branch of ICOMOS Canada in 1983. This philosophy forms the backbone of the Levels of Intervention System used by many heritage professionals within the Canadian Parks Service. This set of guidelines subdivides conservation into two categories:

  1. at the level of minimum intervention is preservation (or protection), which consists of interim
    protection and stabilization;
  2. more radical intervention is defined as development (or

"The latter includes period restoration or rehabilitation and, at the maximum level of intervention (i.e., replacement), means either period reconstruction or contemporary redevelopment. The recently proposed CPS Cultural Resource Management Policy is also based on the concept of a "continuum of strategies," but has placed reconstruction within the category of presentation. This clearly stated distinction between conservation and presentation is fairly recent and reflects the accumulated experience of CPS over the greater part of a century."

Ricketts, Shannon. "Raising the Dead: Reconstruction Within The Canadian Parks Service," CRM, Volume 15, No. 5, p.13. National Park Service. [Download PDF format file.] Note: National Parks of Canada Policy will be available in the future. PCM July 16, 2003.

" In the CRM [Cultural Resource Management] policy, five principles are set down to enable us to make decisions or choices about the scale and level of treatment of historic structures. These are the principles of:

        1. value
        2. public benefit
        3. understanding
        4. respect and
        5. integrity

    "At the macro-level, these principles guide the planning process and at the micro-level facilitate the selection of appropriate conservation treatments. The planning process should result in one document
    clearly describing the values and the significance of a site or area and its commemorative/presentation objectives. Everyone from heritage professionals, field people and management needs to be in agreement on the conservation/presentation agenda...."

    "There can be no doubt that this process of choice is essential, especially in times of budgetary restraint."

    Cameron, Christina. "Managing Heritage Structures in the 1990s Current Issues Facing the CPS," CRM Volume 15, No. 6, p.3. National Park Service. [Download a PDF format file.] Reformatted here to include numerical list of the principles.

    "The advent of the conservation technologist implies, therefore, a general change of conservation policies, shifting the emphasis from spectacular performances in restoration to periodic maintenance routines (survey, documentation, monitoring, repair, environmental protection). If and when this desirable evolution takes place, conservation technology will become as reliable as railroad engineering, probably to the regret of the lovers of adventure who are so abundant in our trade. Luckily for them, the field is so complex and apparently inexhaustible that such a stage is not likely to be reached in a short time."

    Torraca, Giorgio. "The Scientist's Role in Historic Preservation with Particular Reference to Stone Conservation", in Conservation of Historic Stone Buildings and Monuments, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1982. Available from the National Academies Press.

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