Conservation - Caring for objects
To Conserve or Restore?
Sometimes objects are in poor condition when we receive them. This may be because they are old, or have been badly stored and looked after in the past.
If we are to use such objects in a display or for interpretation, it is important that you are able to see enough of the object to understand what it is, how it was used and so on.
Generally museums do not try to restore objects to their original condition to look 'like new'. We believe that we should always retain as much as possible of the original item, for future generations to see and understand. Where we have to substitute replacement parts, they must always be clearly identifiable as replacements. There is never any attempt to 'fake' parts so that they look like the original, even if they are not. This is how conservation differs from restoration.
Very often we do not even try to replace broken or missing parts. We will make sure that the object is stable and unlikely to suffer from further damage, we will display or store it under the right conditions, and use pictures, captions and models to explain what it looked like when it was new.
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