Conservation worker

 17 February 2011

Conservation workers in the cultural heritage sector improve the condition of objects and places of historical interest. They may be responsible for a specific area of work such as historic buildings, sites, collections or works of art.

They protect or improve their condition and prevent or managing deterioration in the item or place. They work in the public and the private sectors, as institutional or corporate practitioners, managers or consultants. 'Conservator-Restorers' are accredited conservation professionals.

Conservation workers may be involved with:

  • Buildings or objects with a view to preservation or restoration
  • Parks and gardens of special historic or architectural interest
  • Cultural collections where they may specialise in areas such as archaeology, furniture, paintings, textiles, books, industrial exhibits, ceramics or glass.

Some conservation professionals are generalists applying conservation techniques to a range of objects. Others are specialists in areas like textile conservation or timber preservation. Techniques can be preventative (to avoid damage occurring) or remedial (remedying problems or restoring objects to a better condition).

Some conservation workers may be involved in planning and organising the transportation of objects from one site to another place. They therefore need to be aware of the conditions required for safe removal of the object. They may examine the object or objects carefully and assess their condition, then decide on the best method of conserving them. They use standard office equipment and software. Some conservators use analytical equipment such as microscopes and x-rays.

Conservation workers involved directly in remedial treatment of damaged items may also use tools such as scalpels and magnifying glasses. They may also be responsible for the conditions in which collections or exhibits are stored, used or displayed. As part of a team they may monitor and control temperature, humidity and lighting in the objects environment.

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