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About Conservation

page mounted: 2/1/08 page last updated: 25/3/08

Terminology

The terminology associated with the discipline of conservation can sometimes lead to confusion. This is true in particular of the distinction between preservation and conservation, only compounded by the fact that some languages use both words to express the same meaning. In some countries the distinction between conservator and restorer is a matter of semantics while in other countries the profession of conservator corresponds to that of curator in English-speaking countries. Following are a collection of definitions on the topic of conservation adopted by internationally recognised conservation bodies.

Standards and Ethics

The objectives of IDP with regard to the preservation of the Central Asian material can be summarised as follows:

For further information about ethics in conservation and to view a selection of well known codes of ethics employed by the profession see conservation links.

Documentation

Conservation documentation is the systematic collection of textual and visual information related to a cultural object undergoing any form of conservation or preservation intervention. Conservation documentation can be viewed as analogous to a medical record for a human being. The content and the extent of the documentation are dependent on the policy of individual institutions.

A good conservation documentation policy is as important in a modern institution as is a good conservation and preservation policy: it should be considered intrinsic to any such policy.

Why document?

As many conservators will have experienced, one of the most challenging problems is the lack of information regarding the history of past intervention on cultural objects in their care. The lack of records means that more time must be spent in piecing together information that is known, often by resorting to colleagues for their recollection of what might have happened to specific objects or collections.

The main reasons to keep an updated conservation documentation system can be summarised as follows:

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