Doubts often arise as to the terms used to describe the set of interventions that we intend to carry out in heritage conservation , often confusing what are conservation and restoration treatments.
And it is these concepts that we will start by clarifying.
- Preventive Conservation
- Remedial conservation
A quick search in the dictionary tells us that conserving translates to “Keeping [something] in good condition”.
Therefore, we can consider Conservation as a discipline that encompasses several levels of intervention, each one with certain specificities, all of them aiming to preserve one or more objects.
Within the area of Conservation we can distinguish:
– Preventive conservation;
– Remedial conservation;
Heritage Conservation – Preventive conservation
Preventive conservation interventions have as main objective to create conditions that help to prevent the occurrence of damages or losses in the assets and contribute to slow down the pace of aging of the materials.
Some examples of preventive conservation interventions are:
– the cleaning of books / documents and the spaces where they circulate and are stored;
– the correct handling and packaging of books and documents;
– the control of the surrounding environmental conditions, such as temperature and relative humidity levels.
Although preventive conservation interventions generally do not produce visible results on the pieces, these preventive actions are absolutely essential to keep the collections in good condition, avoiding damage, losses and unnecessary expenses with deeper and more intrusive interventions.
Advantages of Preventive Heritage Conservation
Heritage Conservation – Interventional Conservation
In the event that damage has already occurred or there is damage in progress, interventional conservation measures can be applied that help to stop degradation processes and stabilize the material, thereby reducing the risk of further damage.
This type of intervention can be essential to maintain the cohesion of the various elements of a book, for example, until the intention is to eventually carry out a more in-depth intervention (restoration).
These interventions work as “first aid”.
Some examples of interventional heritage conservation interventions are:
– the planning of folded sheets,
– the consolidation of fragile areas of paper,
– repair of paper tears,
– the reintegration of detached sheets and bindings,
However, the restoration has as its main objective specifically to return the original appearance and / or function, in part or in full, of the material to be restored.
Some examples of restoration interventions in books and graphic documents are:
– filling in gaps (on sheets or in the binding),
– the revival of texts and illustrations.
In other materials like ceramics, for example:
– removal of old restorations that compromise the stability of the ceramic piece.
– reintegration of glaze gaps.
– gluing of detached fragments.
By clicking on the link below you can analyze the specifications related to these concepts on the website of the ICOM (International Council of Museums):