Art conservation entails cleaning and repairing artwork to preserve it for future generations.

Conservators prioritize preservation over restoration, striving to ensure an original artwork remains undamaged.

Although you might think it would be easy to recognize when artwork requires immediate professional conservation intervention, that isn’t always the case.

Read on for four surprising facts you need to know about art conservation and restoration.

Fact 01: It’s a Stewardship

Art museums employ conservation departments dedicated to safeguarding artwork. Their researchers conduct scientific analysis and hands-on treatments and use imaging technologies such as x-rays to view the works’ inner composition.
As it’s essential that conservators work on art objects with care, it is vitally important that when art conservationists handle an object it is done so with great diligence. Artwork is a delicate medium that should only be handled by professionals trained to handle such fragile medium.
Conservation has evolved into an intricate field with deep historical connections to objects. The goal is to maintain their physical substance without adding new materials to them.
Restoration on the other hand focuses on returning an artwork to its original state, condition, or appearance without considering historic in-use alterations.

Relying solely on destructive restoration methods could destroy evidence of its history while jeopardizing its integrity. Art restorers must also consider the long-term deterioration potential of treatment materials when making their restoration decisions.

Fact 02: It’s a Career

An art conservator of a museum can play an invaluable role in protecting cultural heritage for future generations. They study art history, chemistry, and other fields to determine effective preservation methods.
Conservators use both analytical research and hands-on treatments to protect art from damage. Conservators usually work alongside art historians, chemists, and materials scientists on conservation teams; additionally, they consult curators about how best to display artwork safely while ensuring each work has the necessary frames before beginning treatment.

Art restoration refers to returning paintings and other artwork to their original condition, whether this has been deliberately done or damage has occurred over time due to age and human use.
Restoration must be distinguished from conservation as both have distinct goals; mistakingly associating one with the other could put valued artworks into irreparable hands, leading to unnecessary or permanent harm being caused to it.

Fact 03: It’s an Investment

Art conservators specialize in protecting cultural heritage. By applying knowledge from art history and science with hands-on treatment techniques, conservators use their expertise to protect collections.
Museums and galleries entrust conservation specialists with their priceless artwork; private art collectors also enlist conservators’ help when moving or storing collections.
Though people often confuse art restoration, preservation, and conservation as one process, each term serves a distinct function and must not be confused. By distinguishing between these three processes, it’s possible to avoid unnecessary confusion by not misusing any one term or the others.

As one example, paintings may be restored to regain their aesthetic integrity after incurring damage, according to Scott Zema from Ark Limited Appraisals in Seattle.

Fact 04: It’s a Choice

Art conservation specialists dedicate themselves to keeping art and other treasured objects in their finest possible condition, whether placing them in museums for further research, or making sure the public can view them on display.
At times, artwork may become so damaged that immediate expert intervention is essential to its preservation. Paintings exhibiting blotches or discolorations could lose considerable value without treatment;
Some artists might oppose altering or restoring their work, believing that its history and age add character and beauty to its aesthetic value.