Conservation and Restoration Ethics

Conservation treatments aim to stabilize any damage and prevent any further deterioration of the object – the historical integrity of an object is of the utmost importance, this is the most common approach used in museums.

Restoration treatments will also treat the object so that no further deterioration occurs but the aim is to improve the aesthetic appearance of the object. This may involve dismantling an object, remodelling missing sections and achieving an ‘invisible’ finish.

The crucial thing is that whether an object is being treated by a conservator or restorer its historical and physical properties are always respected and preserved for the future.

The current techniques allow the conservator/restorer to confine any restoration materials to the damaged area.

Any materials that are used on your ceramics should be fully reversible, this means that if at a later date it was necessary for the restoration to be removed it could be.

It is important to point out that just because an object has old restoration it does not necessarily have to be removed.  If the object is still stable and the old repair is not too distracting then it is worth considering leaving it.

What to do if an object is damaged?

Ideally every fragment, even the tiniest piece, should be collected up and individually wrapped in acid-free tissue paper (or plain white tissue paper if no acid free is available), and then clearly labelled.  Please do not fit the pieces back together as this can damage the delicate break edges, and definitely do not tape the fragments together or to a piece of paper as this can damaged gilding or glazes.  Endeavour to get the object to a restorer/conservator as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.

Ivory cup

Carved ivory cup