Conservation services are offered by trained professionals in the field of conservation of historic works, artistic works, and cultural property. Conservators specialize in one of three main branches: paper, paintings, and artifacts. Many institutions have conservators on staff, though private conservators and contractors can also be contacted to complete treatments and offer recommendations.
If you do not have a conservator on staff, you may be wondering when you would need to contact one for assistance.
Questions to ask before contacting a conservator:
- Are there any trained staff members onsite that can assist?
- Conservators can be costly. Is funding available within the budget to hire a conservator?
- Does the item require treatment immediately to remain chemically and physically stable?
- Does the collection contain a variety of mixed media (textiles, paintings, wood artifacts, and textual records)?
When should you contact a conservator?
- If your collection is threatened by an environmental disaster
- If items have been vandalized
- If items are going on exhibit or display
- If items of high priority require treatment for stabilization (historical value, informational value, legal value, evidential value, monetary value, intrinsic value)
- If items require treatment prior to going on loan
- If there is a suspected pest outbreak in the collection
- If you are redesigning your archives’ collection space and require advice on storing items with unique housing requirements