What is Conservation?



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Conservation…Restoration:                            What’s the Difference? 

Regarding fine art preservation, a Restorer is one who seeks to improve the appearance of a work of art with or without regard to its original structure, materials, or historic significance.  In contrast, a Conservator has received a degree from a graduate-level program in conservation or completed a lengthy apprenticeship with experienced senior colleagues. A conservator has been trained to provide ethical treatment based on visual, historic, and scientific characteristics of each individual object.

Restoration; in general, repairing aesthetic appearance compromised by age or damage, is only one aspect of conservation treatment and typically follows thorough examination of the object, documentation (as per the strict Code of Ethics dictated by AIC[1] ), possible research or scientific analysis, and structural stabilization.

The contemporary field of art conservation embodies the characteristics of restoration with an understanding of the philosophy and intent inherent in the term preservation. Preservation implies saving and maintenance; restoration is the repair work necessary when an object is actually damaged or suffering from deterioration due to age or neglect. Art conservation, then, is a profession combining not only the craft traditions and many skills necessary for effective physical repairs but also a concern for history, aesthetics, uniqueness, and long-term preservation.

It is in this spirit that the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts proudly offers its services and expertise in the conservation of paintings.

[1] AIC:  The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, a national organization of conservation professionals