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Preventive Conservation

Collections care and conservation are a vital part of a museum’s work, which aims to prolong the life of an objects for as long as possible and for future generations to enjoy. This is why preventive conservation is so important, to manage the changes which happen of objects over time and try and reduce the rate of deterioration of materials.

Whereas preventive conservation is aiming to prevent damage as much as possible, remedial conservation is the work that happens after damage has occurred. This could include putting a broken ceramic back together or cleaning the deteriorated varnish off an oil painting. These are generally highly skilled processes which need to be done by a conservator. Preventive conservation can be done trained museum staff and volunteers, which will hopefully mitigate the need for the remedial conservation. 

Winter is nearly here so ensure that you are ready by looking through this winter checklist.

Conservation Advice

Preventive conservation can cover many aspects of collections care and try to mitigate the agents of deterioration. Advice on how to manage these agents of deterioration can be found in these topics: 

Preventive Conservation - useful links

ICON - The Institute of Conservation website provides information and advice on how to care for different material types, how to find a conservator, training, conservation standards etc

Museum accreditation - Arts Council England website

Museum of London e-learning tools - A collection of e-learning tools designed by the Museum of London covering emergency planning, handling museum objects, museum pests, packing museum objects for storage and packing museum objects for transport

Preservation Advisory Centre guidance booklets - Downloadable leaftlet on a range of topics including basic preservation, cleaning books and documents, managing the library and archive environment, managing mould outbreaks, managing pest outbreaks, salvaging library and archival material, and more ...

Conservation suppliers list - list of useful conservation suppliers

Agents of Deterioration - an quick overview of what could be affecting your collection

Collections Trust - useful links complied by the Collections Turst

SWFed Collections resources - Advice on collections development, documentation and care. 

Protect Photos, Documents and Other Papers from Natural Destruction over time - A site dedicated to the preservation of paper based items


South Region Conservator's Network - This group meets up periodically to discuss items related to working in the field of Conservation. This includes, but is not restricted to, tours of facilities, talks on specific subject matters, seeking advice from members and discussions of ethics, treatments, and methodologies.

NatSCA - The Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) is a UK based membership organisation and charity run by volunteers from the membership.

NatSCA's mission is to promote and support natural science collections, the institutions that house them and the people that work with them, in order to improve collections care, understanding, accessibility and enjoyment for all. - The Integrated Pest Management Working Group, (IPM-WG) is a group of collection managers, conservators, entomologists and other professionals interested in issues surrounding the implementation of integrated pest management in museums and other collection-holding institutions. The group meets annually hosted by supporting institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Rubin Museum of Art and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) - The Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) program is a global initiative that seeks to improve the availability and quality of conservation education and professional training worldwide. 

ICON Special Interest Groups - Each Group is dedicated to a different branch of the profession and has a committee which organises events, training and networking opportunities. You need to be an ICON member to join a group. 

Conservation Grants

AIM Preventive Conservation Grant scheme - The AIM Preventive Conservation Grant Scheme has been set up to help small museums develop a more sustainable approach to the conservation and management of collections through improvements to preventive conservation within their museum. 

AIM Conservation Grant scheme - The AIM Conservation Grant Scheme, supported generously by The Pilgrim Trust, is intended to assist AIM’s smaller members with conservation of important objects in their collections.

Association for Industrial Archaeology Restoration Grants - Grants are available for a range of historic and industrial archaeology purposes (see criteria for details)

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation - Museum & Heritage Collections: This strand focuses on time-limited collections work including research, documentation and conservation that is outside the scope of an organisation's core resources. 

Glazier's Trust - Grants are available to churches and other public buildings exclusively for the restoration and conservation of historic and important stained glass.

Leche Trust - The Trustees award grants in the following areas: Historic buildings of the Georgian period or earlier; Church furnishings of the Georgian period or earlier; Conservation of historic collections in museums and other institutions; Professional performance in theatre, music and dance.

Museums Association - Kathy Callow Trust - The trust was founded in 1994 from part of the residue of the estate of the late Kathy Callow. It makes awards to small museums with a long-term benefit for the purposes of assisting with the costs of conservation projects relating to social history artefacts and evidence. 

National Manuscripts Conservation Trust -  The NMCT is the only UK grant-giver that focuses soley on the care and conservation of manuscripts in the UK.

The Pilgrim Trust - Our main emphasis is on projects that conserve historical buildings, monuments and collections

Wolfson Foundation - We award grants to support the display of permanent collections in museums and galleries throughout the UK.