Conservation and Preservation of Museum Objects

Authored by: Ellen Pearlstein

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry describes the history and evolution of the field of conservation of culturally valued materials found in museum collections. Significant steps in the evolution of museum conservation in the twentieth century include the introduction of chemists to a field previously dominated by artists and craftsmen, and a redefinition to include the prevention of damage through environmental management rather than only through activities designed to restore already damaged works. Professionalization of the field coincides with the introduction of standards and codes of practice, membership organizations, and scholarly publications. A description is included of the historical development of these standards and codes, which are generally referred to as conservation ethics. A final section examines the professional emphasis on textual, graphic, and photographic documentation used to monitor conditions and practices, and the way in which conservation activities and records have moved from behind the scenes to become part of the museum information accessible to the public.

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