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Conservators undertake the preservation and conservation of objects and materials in public and private collections, including libraries, galleries, museums, historical and archaeological sites. Conservators usually specialise in particular materials such as paper, painting, glass, ceramics, metals, textiles, buildings, archives and book binding. Tasks may include:

  • Examine objects to determine condition and authenticity
  • Give advice on or develop programs for correct handling/transporting and storage/display of objects and materials
  • Undertake research on the material and production techniques of collections and the methods critical to their preservation
  • Undertake conservation and restoration procedures to correct damage or control deterioration such as cleaning
  • Keep records of conservation and restoration interventions.


Conservation work is very detailed and often painstaking work which requires good fine motor skills, an eye for detail, creative problem solving skills and patience.

Conservators usually have studied or worked in different fields such as art history, archaeology, fine arts, chemistry, physics or trade occupations. Specialist qualifications are required for professional work in this field through either undergraduate of postgraduate study. This study will involve chemistry, materials technology, collection management principles as well as hands-on conservation skills.