Guidelines for Commissioning Conservation Treatment
The conservation of objects of historic, artistic or other value is a skilled task based on the structural and chemical knowledge of the materials involved and an understanding of the nature and significance of each object. Conservation treatment of these objects should therefore be carried out by or with the advice of a qualified conservator.
Availability of Conservators
A directory of AICCM members in private practice is available on this website. Major custodial institutions such as museums, art galleries, libraries and archives, may also be able to provide information on conservators in their area. It must be understood, however, that neither the AICCM nor institutions can recommend or accept responsibility for the work of an individual conservator.
Qualifications and Specialisations
Through their training, conservators have an understanding of the principles of the conservation of most materials, but tend to specialise in the treatment of one type of object or material. Examples of specialisations include paintings, works of art on paper, documents, ceramics, photographic material, ethnographic objects, metal objects, textiles, furniture and preventive conservation. Selection of a conservator for a particular job should therefore be based on an assessment of both the skills and specialisation needed. Clients should feel free to seek reference from other conservators or previous clients who have used their services.
Conservators who are members of AICCM are required to subscribe to the Code of Ethics and Code of Practice, which was revised in 2000. This document sets out principles of ethical practice for all those involved in the conservation of cultural materials and outlines the general obligations of the conservator. It includes relationships with the owner and with other members of the profession and recommends practice as regards examination, treatment and preventive conservation of objects.
Identification and Assessment of Objects
Owners may wish to have an object accurately identified and/or valued before deciding on the type and level of conservation treatment to be undertaken. Valuing an artwork is not a service provided by conservators. Some of the major museums and galleries provide identification and advisory services at specified times or may be able to refer owners to commercial valuers. Alternatively, consult a valuer registered under the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.
Aim of Conservation
The aim of conservation is to safeguard objects and the information contained in them for future generations. Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, preservation, restoration and preventive conservation, all of which are supported by research, education and training.
Clients should receive a firm written quotation for work on each object. This quote is usually based on an assessment of the condition of the object and the estimated time and materials needed for the recommended treatment. Other costs may include insurance, storage and transport, if applicable.
Clients should be satisfied as to security precautions, including fire protection and insurance, when engaging a conservator to undertake a treatment.