Conservation - conservator

DEFINITION

A far-reaching term, it refers to the restoration of damaged artwork and also to the preservation for long-term care. If conservation is handled correctly, scientific determination of materials will be done before any conservation processes begins. Conservation methods date back to antiquity when Greek and Roman artisans repaired sculpture and continued forward through the Renaissance into modern times. In 1564 "The Last Judgment" mural by Michelangelo was restored only 24 years after its completion. Until the 19th century, artists ground their own paints and, knowing their "recipes", were quite often the best ones to restore their own work. However, with the onset of factory made paints and variations in quality, persons with special knowledge of the range of paints became professional conservators. In 1888, the Staatlich Museum in Berlin developed the first scientific laboratory for Conservation. In 1928, the Fogg Museum at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts organized, for the first time, a laboratory that brought together art historians, scientists and restorers to analyze reasons for deterioration of works of art and solutions. An important part of Conservation is making sure that the process does not do damage to original mediums--in other words, does not alter the integrity of the artwork. The American Institute for Conservation sets a code of ethics and is an organization to which many professional conservators belong. Source: Arthur W. Schultze, General Editor, "Caring for Your Collections", Harry N. Abrams Press, 1992, p. 12.

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