Conservation Laboratory

What is the role of a conservator?

The Conservator is a professional who has the training, knowledge, skills, experience and understanding to act with the aim of preserving cultural heritage for the future, and according to the considerations as outlined in various international charters.

The principal aim of conservators at NAM is to take care of our archival collections by ensuring that they are preserved in a stable condition while making them accessible to researchers.

Various factors determine the state of preservation of a document; these may include external factors such as handling, storage, and environmental conditions or intrinsic factors such as ink corrosion and brittle paper caused by chemical reactions and natural aging.  For the safekeeping of archival material, the conditions for their storage and display are governed by a set of standards to act as guidelines for their better preservation. When any of these guidelines are not adhered to, damage will occur.

What is the difference between Preservation, Conservation and Restoration?

Preservation or Preventive Conservation consists of indirect actions to retard deterioration and prevent damage by creating conditions optimal for the preservation of the collection.

Conservation consists mainly of direct actions carried out on damaged or deteriorated documents with the aim of stabilising their condition and retarding further deterioration.

Restoration consists of a direct action carried out on damaged or deteriorated items with the aim of facilitating its perception, appreciation and understanding, while respecting as far as possible its aesthetic, historic and physical properties.

What are the main tasks of the Conservation Laboratory?

The Conservation Laboratory at NAM has the required expertise and equipment to carry out various interventions needed for the preservation and conservation-restoration of its holding.

In order to achieve its goals, the Conservators carry out monitoring campaigns recording the environmental conditions of the repositories together with condition surveys both on the existing holdings and new acquisitions.  This analytical process shapes the foundation for any conservation intervention. Conservation treatments are carried out using selective methods accordingly and using high quality archival standard materials. Documentation is done before, during and after any intervention. These interventions are reversible and performed following International Code of Ethics.

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