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About Conservation
Conservation is the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations. Find a conservation professional, learn about the field, and discover resources to help preserve the objects that are important to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is conservation?

Conservation encompasses actions taken toward the long-term preservation of cultural property. Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventative care, supported by research and education.

How is conservation different from restoration?

Sometimes confusion arises about the terms "restoration" and "conservation." Restoration is actually a type of conservation treatment. It specifically refers to an attempt to bring cultural property closer to its original appearance. The other type of conservation treatment is stabilization, which refers to an attempt to maintain the integrity of cultural property and to only minimize deterioration.

What is a conservator?

Conservators are professionals who work to physically save our cultural property from the ravages of time, the threats of pollution, and the devastation brought by natural disasters. A conservator may be trained at a conservation graduate training program or by lengthy apprenticeship with experienced senior colleagues. Working in museums, other cultural institutions, research labs, and in private practice, conservators combine unique skills gained through ongoing study and advanced training in art history, science, studio art, and related disciplines to care for and preserve our tangible history.

Because of the increasingly technical nature of modern conservation, conservators usually specialize in a particular type of object, such as: paintings, works of art on paper, rare books, photographs, electronic media, textiles, furniture, archaeological and ethnographic materials, sculpture, architectural elements, or decorative arts.

How can I find a conservator?

Please visit our free, online Find a Conservator tool to locate a conservator in your area.

Do you have any conservators on staff?

No, there are no trained conservators on staff at the institute. The staff is primarily made up of association/arts non-profit professionals. Your questions are best answered by a trained conservator, which you can find by using our Find a Conservator tool.

Is there anyone I can ask for advice if I want to restore something myself?

You may Find a Conservator who offers Consultation or Teaching services, but please be prepared to compensate them for their time.

How much will a conservator charge for their services?

The fees charged by conservators vary greatly depending on location, level of education and experience, the difficulty of the project, and the value of the objects being treated. Rates must be established on an individual basis.

How do I know the conservators you list are qualified?

We only list peer-reviewed members in Find a Conservator. All have undergone our peer-reviewed application process. A body of their peers recognized by the field reviewed their training, knowledge, and experience.

How do I become a conservator?

Please visit our Become a Conservator page for information on the steps you can to take to become a conservator.

Do you offer internships?

As an administrative office for the association, we do not offer any conservation internships or fellowships. We suggest that you search for those opportunities in our career center.

Can anyone become a member? How do I become one?

Yes, any individual or institution that has an interest in the field of conservation can become an Associate or Institutional member. Go to our Membership page to learn more about becoming a member.

Can I become a member even if I'm not a U.S. citizen or resident?

Yes, we have many members from all over the world--from Seattle to Singapore. Go to our Membership page to learn more about becoming a member.

How can I support the conservation field?

You can make a donation to the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC). FAIC supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase understanding of our global cultural heritage. If you want to learn more about topics in conservation and support FAIC’s work, consider becoming a Friend of Conservation.

Can I get something appraised?

We recommend that you only solicit appraisals from someone who is a designated appraisal expert. Conservation professionals can identify or provide more information about an object, but they should not appraise it for any monetary value. To find an appraiser, please visit the websites of either the Appraisers Association of America at www.appraisersassoc.org or the American Society of Appraisers at www.appraisers.org.

Where can I find archival storage materials?

Visit our Conservation Vendors and Products page for the latest in conservation products.