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Museum Workshop: The Art, Science and Craft of the Conservator took the audience into the behind-the-scenes world of the conservation team – the people responsible for the physical care of objects in the Museum's collection.

Museum Workshop was at the National Museum of Australia from 25 October 2012 to 28 January 2013.

In the conservation lab 7:15

Conservators Jennifer Brian and Michelle Newton-Edwards describe how we care for collections, from First Nations objects to a pair of shoes worn at the Sydney Mardi Gras and Russell Crowe’s boots. Watch the full In the conservation lab: Live at the Museum video on YouTube

Conservation at the Museum

The National Museum holds a rich and diverse collection of Australian historical material in trust for the nation. Our conservators care for this collection, helping to make it accessible now and in the future. They are responsible for the physical care and preservation of the Museum's collection.

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Conservators work to protect the Museum’s collection when it is in use and in storage. They manage risks, while helping to make objects accessible to a wide range of audiences and visitors. Conservators examine and describe objects, identify and analyse their characteristics and develop ways to repair and prevent damage.

All conservators are involved in the art, science and craft of conservation. They understand the science of deterioration, and they share a respect for cultural heritage, and the skills of makers and manufacturers. When working with objects, conservators mesh their knowledge with delicate craft skills to treat damage and prevent future damage.

Conservators consider the physical properties and condition of an object. They also take into account its historical, cultural, social or even spiritual significance, and its likely use for exhibitions, study or research.

Conservators and curators investigate all aspects of an object's history to understand its significance. Treatments are then developed to preserve the evidence of important aspects of an object's ‘life’, to address any existing deterioration and prevent further damage in the future.

The area of ‘overlap’ between an object’s physical state, its significance and its intended use can be seen as the conservation decision-making zone.

Door to store: Caring for your collection
  • Last updated: 15 November 2013
  • 8 programs
Advice, demonstrations and practical tips on caring for the National Historical Collection, and your collection at home, from the Museum's Conservation and Registration teams.
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