All the Articles listed on this page were written by people in the restoration and conservation field and are not endorsed by or suggested as the opinion of this Website. The articles are just the viewpoint of the authors. If you disagree with any of the articles or methods listed below please use feedback at the bottom of the page. If you would like to submit a article to this Website for publication please E-mail me at



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Archaeological Conservation

Modern Materials

Mongolian Projects

Native Technology

Natural History Collections

Other Projects

Sculpture Projects


  • The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

    Conservation of Archives and Ephemera

    By Chris Woods and Stephen Ball

    Most museums hold a range of miscellaneous documents and papers whose value lies principally in their content. Journals, genealogies, plans, inventories, diaries, deeds, share certificates, bills of exchange, accounts and other substantial records have obvious archival importance. Yet there is also historical value in newspapers, posters, playbills, tickets, cuttings and many other 'ephemeral' objects that were not intended to last.

    Paper is the dominant material for these objects, though some older deeds and manuscripts are made of parchment. The quality of these materials varies widely; the intentionally transient nature of ephemera often meant that poor-quality materials were used to produce them.

    All archival objects must be handled and stored with care, whether they are from past centuries or merely a few weeks old. In particular, seek advice from a conservator or your Area Museum Council before working with documents or records made of poor-quality materials.


    This fact sheet concentrates on paper and parchment documents.


    The raw material of all types of paper is cellulose obtained from vegetable fibres. The fibres are combined into a mat and bound with adhesive additives, and may be further treated to provide other desirable qualities such as whiteness. In Western papermaking, the best fibres come from linen, cotton or hemp, often obtained from rags. Their simple cellulose structure and long fibres lend great strength and durability to the resulting paper. Rag-made papers were unsuitable for the increasingly industrialised publishing industries of the nineteenth century, so their use is now restricted to prestige or craft projects where the high quality of handmade paper is important.

    Esparto grass once enjoyed some popularity as a source of reasonably good book papers, but most twentieth century papers are made from another compound cellulose or wood. Wood pulp is relatively cheap and easy to process in large quantities, and the resulting paper runs well through high-speed modern presses and machinery. Wood may be added to other paper to modify its properties; some present-day papers, including newsprints, have plastics added to the mix.

    The long-fibres of simple cellulose rag papers resist tearing and repeated folding more effectively than the shorter fibres of compound cellulose wood-based papers. And although no paper is chemically inert, wood-pulp produces far more reactive and thus shorter-lived paper than rag. Chemical processing improves the qualities of wood-based papers beyond those of the untreated 'mechanical' forms. Poorer-quality mechanical papers such as traditional newsprints sometimes betray their origin with identifiable chips of wood embedded in the paper. The quality of papers therefore varies widely, but the care and conservation requirements are broadly the same for all types.


    Parchment is made from animal skins commonly sheepskin. These are dried and limed to produce a stiff and light-coloured surface suitable for writing inks.

    Higher-quality grades of parchment include 'virgin parchment', made from the skins of new-born lambs or kids, and vellum, a burnished parchment made from calf, kid or lamb skin. (So-called 'vegetable parchment' is a paper treated with sulphuric acid to give it a parchment-like appearance.)

    The Risks

    Archival materials are at risk from four principal sources: mechanical damage, heat, moisture and light.

    Mechanical Damage

    By their very nature, archival documents are likely to be accessed for their content. Frequent use will result in creasing, tearing, soiling and staining, and even casual or malicious marking with pencil or ink.

    Strategies to reduce mechanical damage must combine the direct protection of the object - for example, with a transparent sleeve - with a rational and consistently applied system of storage and access management.

    Heat and moisture

    These two characteristics act together and must be managed together. Stability is as important as the absolute value of these parameters. Monitor and control your temperature and RH levels, and avoid large or rapid variations.

    Excess heat dries papers and parchments, making them less pliable and more brittle. Both materials have a natural moisture content that must be maintained. Dried-out documents are likely to crack and split in use, probably along existing folds and weak spots.

    Excess moisture creates a weaker, less coherent material - the fragility of soggy paper is a familiar example - and conditions that favour mould growth and pest attack. Moisture also draws more of the potentially harmful chemicals already present in the material into solution, accelerating chemical decomposition. Chemical instability is a particular problem for low-quality papers. When heat and moisture combine, the effects of each can be increased: for example, mould is almost certain to attack paper and parchment under warm, moist conditions.


    Everyone is familiar with the fate of a newspaper left in bright sunlight for a few days. The paper rapidly takes on a yellowish or brownish cast and feels more brittle between the fingers.

    Cheap newsprints are extremely reactive and particularly prone to such rapid changes, but light affects all materials used to produce archive and other documents. UV-rich daylight is a potent source of damage, though artificial light sources are capable of similar effects and if close to a document may subject it to heat too.

    Yet light is necessary for access: people must be able to see a document. The intensity and duration of light falling on the document has to be reduced to a minimum using UV filters on windows and light sources - which need periodic checking and replacement - and the restriction of light exposure by curtains and time switches where appropriate. Copies (see below) usually represent the safest solution of all, and allow the original document to remain in light-free storage.

    Storage and Display

    Small museums are unlikely to have enough space to be able to set aside complete rooms for archival storage, but the designated area must be environmentally stable and free from damp, excesses of heat, and undue 'traffic' from visitors or staff.

    Objects in book form can be stored on shelves, but loose documents and other similar items are best stored in boxes made of acid-free card or a suitable plastic. The storage area, the boxes or both must be capable of keeping light away from the document. Within the boxes, store individual items in acid-free envelopes (not the manila or white envelopes of ordinary office stationery) or clear plastic sleeves.

    Choose conservation-grade sleeves of clear polyester with only one open side and smooth internal surfaces; avoid coloured or translucent plastic, which may contain fillers or other additives. A4 sleeves are readily available from museum suppliers. Never use PVC, even as a short-term solution (see the fact sheet on plastics).

    Plastic sleeves, and to a lesser extent paper envelopes, help to shape a multiplicity of different-sized objects into a more uniform system of storage. Very small items such as tickets or bills are far less likely to be lost or overlooked when they are in a sleeve. Resist the temptation to store more than one item in a single sleeve: this carries the risk of abrasion or ink set-off between the items, and makes it far more likely that researchers will have to remove the contents to use them, thus squandering one of the great advantages of storage in clear sleeves.

    Archival materials are more likely to be accessed on an individual basis than displayed for general view, but where display is worthwhile the light exposure and mounting of the item are of paramount importance. One option is a closed display cabinet with time-delayed lighting or curtains.

    Parchment presents special problems, and must not be mounted or otherwise treated like paper. It is probable that over the centuries a parchment document will have acquired a pronounced curve from rolling or deep creases from folding; these must never be flattened out for display. A copy or replica may be the best approach here.


    Effective access control and supervision and good training and awareness among staff and volunteers are the first defence against mechanical damage.

    Researchers and other visitors should only use documents in a supervised area set aside for the purpose. Wherever possible, leave items in their plastic sleeves throughout the period of use - a definite advantage of sleeves over opaque envelopes. Wear white cotton gloves when handling vulnerable items (and keep several pairs available to make sure that visitors do the same). Even when wearing gloves, keep your fingers away from the text or other information-bearing areas of the document.

    Food, drink, cigarettes, and cleaning or decorating materials should never be used or stored in the vicinity of the items, and ideally not in the same room. Never mark documents, not even with a pencil; and do not attempt to remove or rub out existing marks - you may damage the item, and these marks are part of the document's history. If you decide that a mark or stain represents a long-term threat to a document - because it may provide a medium for mould-growth or a chemical reaction, say - then consult a conservator.


    Documents in regular use are valued for their contents, so copies will nearly always be adequate and should be the preferred medium for access. Where a bona fide researcher needs to view the original document, either because some detail of the copy is insufficiently distinct or the object itself is also under study, then a few simple procedures will keep the item safe:

    • Staff must bring items from the store to the researcher;
    • Beware of damage to heavy or awkward items when moving them from storage;
    • Adopt a booking and signing-in/out system for users, and log all access to the item too;
    • Check items before and after use, and return them to store as soon as possible;
    • Allow access in a specially designated and supervised area only;
    • Ensure smooth, level clean surfaces for users, and control the light levels;
    • Match the environments of the access and storage areas as far as possible;
    • Prohibit food and drink, smoking, and pens or other indelible markers;
    • If you allow bags and cases in the reading area, check them before the user leaves;
    • Only staff should be permitted to make copies (e.g. by photocopying).

    'Surrogates' and Copying

    Copies of documents, often called 'surrogates', are usually the best means of safeguarding archive materials from damage and wear through continued use. Methods and costs vary: fiche and film copies require the services of photographers and other outside agents, and investment in suitable reading equipment; photocopies are cheap and can be produced in-house, but may be of low quality, especially where the original lacks contrast or a clear impression.

    All copying processes are a form of use, exposing documents to handling and light.


    Research suggests that the light exposure resulting from a single photocopying operation is minimal. However, the risk of mechanical damage is relatively high, especially where the original is not flat or is in book form.

    Before undertaking any photocopying project, make sure that the copier is warmed up and in good condition - a machine that is overdue for a service and low on toner will produce bad copies; these will probably need to be redone, increasing the document's net exposure time. The glass window should be scrupulously clean, and free from traces of solvents and cleaning fluids. Adjust optional settings such as light/dark or contrast using scrap items of a similar density, not originals. Your aim should be to expose each item only once.

    Rather than take several copies, make one master copy and reuse that for secondary copies in future. Use an acid-free archival quality paper for the master and store it in the same way as other archive items. Keep a record of the operation. One person working alone can comfortably copy single sheets from originals up to A4, and normally up to A3 unless the original is delicate. A second pair of hands is needed for large or unwieldy items, books and anything fragile. For example, the second person will gently ease a book page open on the glass and at the same time support the rest of the binding. Never flatten a book or any other item onto the glass, and never use an automatic feed mechanism. Do not try to photocopy parchment items; seek professional advice.

    Photocopies made using resin-based toners on archival papers - not office copier paper - are relatively permanent. Avoid flexing the copy to prevent the toner breaking away from the paper, and store the copy in a polyester sleeve. Even copies for frequent or everyday use are better stored in a plastic sleeve - the longer the copy lasts, the less often the original will have to copied in the future.
    A few present-day archival items may be on thermal paper, as used by many fax machines (though not plain-paper faxes), calculators and some older computer printers. This paper is inherently short-lived, and some kind of copying process is essential to preserve the content in the longer term.


    Scanning processes produce a copy in a digitised form. This can be stored in a suitable graphics format; some kinds of text may be suitable for processing through an optical character recognition (OCR) program to create digitised text for subsequent manipulation in word processors, DTP software and other means.

    The ability to manipulate digitised surrogates raises copyright and integrity issues, but from the object's standpoint, flatbed scanning is similar to photocopying. Make sure that the scanner surfaces are scrupulously clean, do not flex or distort the object, and keep exposure time to a minimum.


    Copying operations can breach copyright. Under the revised legislation of 1988, the copyright term for most works under English law was extended from 50 to 70 years after the author's death. The absence of a copyright statement from a document does not mean that it is in the public domain. Transcripts of documents in the public domain themselves become copyright items.

    Consult a copyright lawyer or other specialist before composing your copyright policy, and to resolve any uncertainties or tricky issues.

    National Legislation and Registration

    You are strongly encouraged to submit details of your archival holdings to the National Register of Archives (see details below), which makes your collection accessible to researchers visiting the Register and on the Internet. By law, some types of archive - principally public, parish, tithe and manorial records - must be deposited in county record offices. There are other legislative restrictions that are designed to preserve confidentiality in the case of recent archive materials.

    References and Sources of Information

    BS 5454, Recommendations for Storage and Exhibition of Archival Documents (2000), is the latest version of the national standard that most archives and libraries use as 'bible' of best practice, even though many archives do not reach this standard.

    The National Register of Archives was initiated in 1945 by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Their website is

    The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (also known as the 'Historic Manuscripts Commission' or HMC)
    Quality House, Quality Court
    Chancery Lane
    London WC2A 1HP
    Tel: 020 7242 1198
    Fax: 020 7831 3550

    Advice on archive matters in Scotland is available from:

    The National Archives of Scotland, HM General Register House
    Edinburgh EH1 3YY
    Tel: 0131 535 1314
    Fax: 0131 535 1328

    Or in Wales, from:

    The Convenor, Cyngor Archifau Cymru: Archive Council in Wales. Details of the current contact can be obtained from the local record office or from the RCHM.

    Or, in Northern Ireland, from:

    The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 
    66 Balmoral Avenue, 
    Belfast BT9 6NT.

    Locally, advice is also available from the appropriate local authority record office. Regional Agencies will be able to give guidance on other museums in their region which have developed appropriate archive policies, or tackled particular problems, and whom it may be useful to consult.

    Society of Archivists
    (Executive Secretary: Pat Cleary)
    40 Northampton Road
    EC1R 0HB
    Tel: 020 7278 8630
    Fax: 020 7278 2107

    The Standing Conference on Archives and Museum was set up jointly by the Museums Association, Society of Archivists and the Historical Manuscripts Commission. It can be contacted through:
    Louise Hampson
    Secretary, SCAM
    c/o York Minster Library and Archive
    Deans Park
    York, YO1 2JD
    Tel: 01904 557 239
    Fax: 01904 557 215

    Code of Practice on Archives and Museums (1996) Free from the above address.

    A series of SCAM Information Sheets is available. Titles include:

    1: Collections Policy and Management
    2: Archival Listing and Arrangement
    3: Archive Preservation and Conservation
    4: Access to Archives

    These are available on the SCAM website:

    For more information about private conservation work please contact:

    Conservation Register
    Tel: 020 7721 8246

    Conservation Register (Scotland)
    Tel: 0131 668 8668

    Copies of this fact sheet can be provided in alternative formats. Please contact Viola Lewis, Information Officer at MLA for further information.


The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) is the British national development agency working for and on behalf of museums, libraries and archives and advising government on policy and priorities for the sector.

Advice & Guidance: Conservation

Advice & Guidance: Conservation

Conservation of Archives and Ephemera
Conservation of Books
Conservation of Ceramics and Glass
Conservation of Clocks
Conservation of Costume Accessories
Conservation of Costume Collections
Conservation of Furniture
Conservation of Musical Instruments
Conservation of Natural History Specimens
Conservation of Photographic Materials
Conservation of Plastics Collections
Conservation of Works of Art on Paper: Prints, Drawings and Watercolours
Conservation vs Restoration: the options
Flat Textiles
Magnetic and Digital Materials
Museum Conservation Materials
Silver and other Polished Metals
A Guide to Security for Conservators

Formulae for Conservators

Silicone In Furniture Waxes And Polishes

Y. Wang, & A.P. Schniewind
a: References




Wet Cleaning Quilts at Home

To Bleach or not to Bleach...

SURFACE CLEANING PAPER articles/paper/surfaceclean.htm


Managing a Stacks Cleaning Project an/an22/an22-3/an22-305.html

"Vacuums put power into annual cleaning" by Helen Alten

Choosing a Vacuum Cleaner for Use in Museum Collections (Conserve-O-Gram 1/6) - (An Adobe PDF file)

Volcanic Ash: Cleaning Museum Objects (Conserve-O-Gram 3/5) - (An Adobe PDF file) conserveogram/03-05.pdf

Cleaning Wood Furniture (Conserve-O-Gram 7/1) - (An Adobe PDF file) conserveogram/07-01.pdf



Surface-Cleaning of Paper

Care of Objects:

Archaeological Materials
Arms and Armor
Art and Artwork
Brass and Bronze
Costume Accessories

Electronic Data
Electronic Media
Living Collections
Motion Picture Film
Musical Instruments
Natural History

Sound Recordings
Technological Objects
Transportation Artifacts
Wooden Artifacts


Renowned Conservator Discusses Art, Art Crime, and Van Eyck 

By Noah Charney 
Published Dec 3, 2010
Julia Brennan discusses her adventures in conservation, the ARCA Masters Program in the Study of Art Crime, and what to do with The Ghent Altarpiece. 

Julia Brennan is a renowned art conservator specializing in textiles. In an interview with Noah Charney, Julia discusses her international adventures in conservation, the ARCA Masters Program in the Study of Art Crime, and what to do with The Ghent Altarpiece. 

1. What sort of conservation work do you do? 

I am a textile conservator and specialize in treatments, as well as educational outreach and preventative conservation training in Asia and Africa. I own Textile Conservation Services, based in Washington DC. ( Textile treatments include testing, structural analysis, cleaning, repair, stabilizations, overlays, re-weaving, supports, consolidations, re-mounting and display. It is a lot of fine hand work and very detail oriented. I work on everything from the soft blanket you were swaddled in to giant armorial 15th and 16th century Flemish tapestries. I have enjoyed stabilizing and rehabilitating delicate 18th and 19th century samplers, embroideries and quilts, ethnographic textiles from every continent, historic costumes, christening dresses, military flags, standards, guideons, epaulets, and shoes, fans, and even hats. I have been honored to work on some very important cultural relics: George Washington's 18th century waistcoats, Martha Washington's needle-case, Babe Ruth's kimono, Lou Gehrig's jersey, President Lincoln's 1864 Inaugural Coat, Lafayette's Masonic apron given to President Washington, and James Brown's “sex” jumpsuit. Another aspect of my conservation work is assessing historic collections and providing museums and collectors with guidelines for care, treatment and display. I meet amazing people and learn so much history in my daily work. 

2. What is the process, when you receive a commission of a textile to restore? 

I start with close examination of the surface, structure, framing, supports and historic documentation. The physical details provide many clues into the history of the object. Old tack holes, basting threads, adhesives, wooden strainers, inscriptions, and previous repairs can all reveal past secrets. Before and after treatment photography, as well as written treatment proposals and final reports are part of the code of ethics operative in the conservation profession. It's essential that future colleagues or owners have a well documented history of the conservation treatment. These records accompany the work into the future. When I worked on the Abraham Lincoln coat, I was grateful to have fairly detailed notes and files about the previous treatments and storage of this precious item. I have to say that some of the cutting edge treatments of half a century or more ago would be considered an appalling breach of ethics, history, and conservation technique today. 

My work is guided by the dictum of "less is better" and my interventions must be reversible. So, for example, the decision to 'clean' a textile is carefully weighed, prefaced by testing and research. I do not restore a textile to its original appearance or condition. Even if this were possible, (and it is usually not) my goal is to stabilize, provide aesthetic harmony, and extend its life. Often this approach requires eliciting the known details and history from my client. I always talk to the owner about provenance and rightful ownership. To date, it has been rare to encounter an illicit textile in my private work. When they do surface, I do not take the commission. I encourage the owner to consider thier legal obligations and liabilities, and ethical responsibilities. 

Conservators working on The Ghent Altarpiece 

3. You do work abroad in some exotic places. Could you describe the work and how it comes to you? 

I have worked extensively in Bhutan, as well as Algeria, Madagascar and Thailand. I have been fortunate to be the recipient of both Getty Foundation and US State Department grants to implement preventative conservation training workshops in situ. These programs are based at national and local museums, and monasteries. The scope of work and MOU's are carefully worked out in advance, so that the needs of the host institution and country are met. A discretionary budget for imported materials usually accompanies the grant, so that I can hit the ground running with the necessary tools to train and teach. In Bhutan, I have trained over 20 lay staff and monks in the basics of preventative conservation, care of artifacts, and the establishment of accurate photographic and written collections databases. I had the privilege of visiting monasteries and seeing important textiles that are centuries old. In Madagascar, we rescued the only remaining 19th century collection of traditional “lambas” ceremonial textiles, conducted selected treatments, set up a new storage room, mounted 25 pieces for a national exhibition and trained 12 museum staff from all over the island. Everywhere I've worked, people are so eager to learn the basic tools of the conservation trade and protect their own cultural heritage. It is up to people like us to continue to use our expertise to develop low-tech recordation, provenance, preservation and storage techniques that are affordable and sustainable in places where even electricity is not yet a constant. This work is enormously gratifying for me and empowering for my students. 

4. You graduated from the ARCA Masters Program in the Study of Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection in 2009. What did the program offer to you? 

The ARCA Masters Program provided me with a rich and intriguing background in the world of the illicit trade, and how individuals can play a part to stem it. It's the age old battle of humanity - good versus evil, private greed vs. public heritage. The range of courses and talented professors illuminated and connected the complex intertwining threads of corruption, black and grey markets, organized crime, policies and practices of major museums and auction houses, the necessity for a global provenance or object ID system, collections security, the importance of the actual physical object, forgery and faking of both artifact and paperwork, national laws and conventions, law enforcement, and the role that individuals and governments play in the protection of cultural property. The program gave me the knowledge and confidence to bring the subject of the illicit trade to my own profession and encourage colleagues to take a closer look and stronger stand. I thought it was particularly useful for those conservators who work in multiple settings such as museums, corporate buildings, and private homes; multiple countries; and with diverse types of textiles of many uses and from many eras. The ARCA Masters Program boosted my tool kit for working with foreign governments and institutions, in protecting their cultural heritage. And who knows what will come next? For me, living in historic Amelia, Italy fostered life time friendships among local residents and my classmates, a deeper appreciation for the EU and its challenges (our future) , and some fine mentors and connections. 

5. Tell me about your work since completing the ARCA Masters Program.

I wrote my thesis on the topic of the role conservators can actively play in stemming the illicit trade. That prompted doing a seminar for graduate students at George Mason University's Program in Transnational Crime on the subject of how art trafficking and organized crime (drugs, money, arms, human trafficking) intersect. In October 2010, I gave a paper on my thesis topic to the International Council of Museums Conservation meeting on legal issues at MOMA in New York. This has inspired me to work on clipping my thesis into publishable articles. 

I was the volunteer conservator and jack of all trades for the ARCA exhibition on Art Crime at Washington DC's Museum of Crime and Punishment. The show was a big hit and extended by six months. I've watched Orson Welles "F for Fake" three times and decided it is my most favorite movie. My chapter on teaching preventative conservation in Asia and Africa was published in "The New Textile Conservator" by Elsevier. I've commuted to Thailand four times training conservators and helping to establish a new museum devoted to textiles - which will open in August 2011. 

My company did the conservation treatment and customized preparation of mannequins for 25 historic costumes for the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of African American History and Culture exhibit on the 75th anniversary of the Apollo Theatre. The show is now touring the United States. 

Most recently, I did a conservation assessment of the textile collection of the America's Suffragettes. These included some of the most powerfully inscribed banners and embroidered aprons made by women while in prison for demonstrating for the woman's vote. All of these experiences reinforce the importance of preserving and protecting our history! 

6. What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the conservation world? 

Broadly, it is the protection of huge, ancient outdoor archeological and historic sites and the sheer mass of our cultural heritage that is at risk from war, conflict, greed, poverty, lack of security, and environmental disasters. The biggest challenge is educating a much wider audience about these perils, and persuading stakeholders from business, arts, government and non profits to invest in long term protection. This can be done through increased education, outreach and activism, and clever collaborations. This is evident in the Smithsonian's leadership in the arts conservation rescue project in Haiti. But this needs to be done on a huge scale, with effective local grassroots projects. The Getty, ICOMOS and ICCROM are leaders in this field, spearheading projects in Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Cambodia and many other countries. Conservation education needs to incorporate a more global approach for protection of cultural heritage and make it one of the pillars of conservation work, forging a strong alliance in the field. We may disagree about specific treatments, but not about the need to broadly protect using basic time-tested methods. Our biggest challenge is to get that message out there and act on it. We live in such a fluid global society, and the importance of protecting our common heritage, whether in India, Madagascar, Colombia or Algeria, is increasingly important so that we can pass our stories onto our great grand children. 

7. There has been a recent debate about how much cleaning should be done on Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece. Would you like to comment? 

I have not followed the work closely. Like the 15th century “Sarejevo Haggadah,” The Ghent Altarpiece has an incredible history. How it has survived so many thefts, transports, hidings and restorations is truly remarkable. (Don't we wish artifacts could talk?) The fact that it is intact (with a replaced panel, added supports and previous in-paintings) is astonishing. It has a power and integrity that seems to defy human interference. 

To that point, I think that less is more. History stands to inform us that many past interventions were bold and harmful. Today, we still do not hold the magic solution for the eternal longevity or perceived beauty of The Ghent Altarpiece. Our solvents may be tested and proven, and better than previous ones. But like the medical field, the conservator's methods are constantly evolving. 

Triage to prevent loss or damage is necessary. But cleaning is irreversible. We do not know how our methods will hold up, or what history we will dissolve with our solvents and spit. Tastes change and what is considered pure and historically correct today may not be in 100 years. Cleaning presumes that we know more than our successors and are better at it, and that we somehow know that Jan van Eyck's intention lies beneath a 'distorted surface'. There is time yet for The Ghent Altarpiece. Prudence, respect and continued research and testing is the best path for now. The New York Times reported today (2 December 2010) that there are three times as many stars as we knew. Who would have known? Certainly not Jan van Eyck. Perhaps we have three times as many wishes to protect our planet and treasures. 

For more information on the ARCA Masters Program in the Study of Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, please



What Makes a Book Rare?
National Park Service Division of Conservation, Harpers Ferry Center, Conserve o Gram 19/1

Care and Security of Rare Books
National Park Service Division of Conservation, Harpers Ferry Center, Conserve o Gram 19/2

Use and Handling of Rare Books
National Park Service Division of Conservation, Harpers Ferry Center,Conserve o Gram 19/3


Handle With Care: Furniture
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation Peebles Island Resource Center

Guidelines for the Care of Furniture and Wooden Objects
Williamstown Art Conservation Center


Handle With Care: Your Historic Property & Collections  
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation, Peebles Island Resource Center


Handle With Care: Ceramics
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation, Peebles Island Resource Center

Preservation of Silver
Williamstown Art Conservation Center


Handle With Care: Paintings & Gilt Frames
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation, Peebles Island Resource Center

Basic Guidelines for the Preservation of Paintings on Canvas and Wood
Williamstown Art Conservation Center


Handle With Care: Protecting Paper Collections
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation, Peebles Island Resource Center

Storage Material Choices for Works on Paper
Balboa Art Conservation Center


Caring for Photographs: General Guidelines National Park Service Division of Conservation, Harpers Ferry Center, Conserve o Gram 14/4

Caring for Photographs: Special Formats
National Park Service Division of Conservation, Harpers Ferry Center, Conserve o Gram 14/5

Salvaging Photograph Collections
Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts


Handle With Care: Protecting your Heirloom Textiles
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation, Peebles Island Resource Center

Technical Notes: Rolling Textiles for Storage
Textile Conservation Workshop

Technical Notes: Double-Sided Mount
Textile Conservation Workshop


Investigating the Renaissance-Examining material aspects of three early Netherlandish paintings using digital imaging techniques
Straus Center for Conservation

Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access
Northeast Document Conservation Center


Facilities Assessment
AMIGOS Library Services

Are You Prepared? A Guide to Emergency Planning
Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center

Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Recovery Disaster-Special Concerns for Museum Textile Collections
Textile Conservation Center

Protecting Your Institution from Wild Fires: Planning Not to Burn and Learning to Recover
Southeastern Library Network

Disaster Recovery Services and Supplies
Southeastern Library Network


Low-Cost/No-Cost Improvements in Climate Control
Northeast Document Conservation Center


Preservation of Library & Archival Materials - A Manual
Northeast Document Conservation Center


Health and Biohazard Resources
AMIGOS Library Services


Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts

El Moho
Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts

The Invasion of the Giant Spore
Southeastern Library Network


Preservation/Conservation Supplies and Services
AMIGOS Library Services

Conservation and Preservation Services and Supplies
Southeastern Library Network

Articles from the Smithsonian Institution

Clicking on the following topics will take you to the brochure listing for that topic.

Acid Free Tissue Paper for Textiles and Costume
Geography and Textile Storage
How Much Will It Cost?  Textile Repair
Insects and Wool Textiles
Mold and Mildew
Photography of a Textile for Insurance, Appraisal, or Conservation
Stain Removal from Textiles
Tips on How to Handle Antique Textiles and Costumes


Analysis of paper artifacts and documents

Analytical tests table

Analytical tests graphic

Caring for Audio-Visual and Photographic Materials

Caring for Chinese Wood Block Prints

Caring for Folding Screens

Caring for Globes

Caring for Paper Artifacts (with Appendices on Preservation Responsibilities; Preventive Care Action Steps That Can be Implemented Immediately With Low Cost and High Impact; Deterioration Problems Encountered in Document Collections, and Possible Solutions; Summary of Light Damage to Documents and Recommendations for Control; Housing Options for Paper Documents; Basic Handling: Some Preservation Guides for Paper Documents....) (ESPAÑOL)

Caring for Papier Mache

Caring for Video Tapes

Chemistry of Paper 

Collections Maintenance for Paper Materials:
        Factors to consider before starting
        Preparation of work area, materials and supplies
        Housing options, Housing descriptions, Housing graphics [1][2]
        Use procedures

Conservation of Coated Papers

Conservation of Specialty Papers  (Español)

Conservation of Tracing Papers

Courses for the study of paper documents (see especially 28 June - 6 August 1999)

Curriculum development for the study of paper artifacts and documents (ESPAÑOL) (graphics for topics related to problems and solutions)

Deterioration Problems Encountered in Document Collections; Sources of Deterioration and Damage to Paper Materials

Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Response: Paper-Based Materials (A Primer)  (Español) (graphic)

Exhibition Installation and Dismantling Precautions for Paper-Based Materials

Framing and Unframing Paper Materials

Handling Paper Artifacts

Housing and Environment Options for Paper Documents on Display (graphic)

Housing and Environment Options for Paper Documents in Storage (graphic) (graphic)

Integrated Pest Management

Introduction to Papermaking Furnish and Formation

Paper Properties and Degradation

Preservation Prioritization

Preservation Processing Steps for Paper-Based Collections (graphic)

Preservation Responsibilities for Paper-Based Collections (graphic)

Putting  Together a Time Capsule

Recognizing problems (Español) and developing solutions (Español)for paper artifacts and documents (problems graphic, Español
(solution graphic, Español)

SCMRE Paper Conservation Laboratory Publications

Selected Bibliography for the Preservation of Paper Documents

Smithsonian's Research, Libraries and Archives Collection Conservation Task Force (RELACT)



Clicking on the following topics will take you to the brochure listing for that topic.

Caring for Your Paintings (Español)
Caring for Acrylic Paintings (Español)
What Makes the Painting Image Change? (Español)
Does My Painting Need to be Cleaned? (Español)
What Does It Mean to Have a Painting Restored & How do I Pick a Conservator?
Painting Conservation Glossary of Terms
What is a Painting?
Painting Varnishes



Clicking on the following topics will take you to the brochure listing for that topic.

Care and Handling of Ivory Objects
Caring for Antique Armaments
Caring for Antique Communication Devices: Phonographs, Radios, Telephones, etc.
Caring for Clocks and Watches
Caring for Dolls and Toys
Caring for Musical Boxes
Caring for Musical Instruments
Caring for Old Houses
Dating of Artifacts
Time Capsules


Bugs, Insects and Pests
(IPM) Guidelines
An IPM Checklist for Planning & implementing Pest Control on Art & Artifact Collections (AIC Newsletter, May 1997)

Integrated Pest Management Checklist (SCMRE Paper/Archives Lab)

Clicking on the following topics will take you to the brochure listing for that topic.

Biological Deterioration & Damage to Furniture & Wooden Objects
Caring for Musical Boxes
Caring for Musical Instruments
Caring for Old Houses
Fundamental Construction Techniques for Furniture & Wooden Objects
Furniture Care and Handling
Furniture Conservation Training Program Master Reading List
Guidelines for Taking Wood Samples from Objects of Antiquity
Moving, Packing, and Shipping Furniture

Recipe for Leather Care: An Ounce of Prevention by Colleen Wilson


The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
Tips for the care of water-damaged family heirlooms and other valuables
Definitions of conservation terminology
Problems with Paper
- by Colleen Wilson
Advice to Bookworms - by Colleen Wilson
Mold and Mildew: Prevention of Microorganism Growth In Museum Collections
Paper Degradation by Air Pollution
Books have the same enemies as people: fire, animals, weather and their own content
Paper Related Damages
Damage to Book Covers
Foxing ( foxmarks )
Packaging the American Word
Care, Handling and Storage of Books
Leather Dressing
Accelerated Aging of Paper: Can it Really Foretell the Permanence of Paper


As the national library, the KB functions as expertise centre in the field of conservation and the execution of conservation activities, a.o. by coordinating the national Metamorfoze project for the preservation of library collections.


Furniture & Wooden Objects



Paper-Based Materials


Interesting Links



The Cleaning and Lacquering of Museum Silver
The Urban Conservation Glossary
Tips for New eBay Users and Novice Collectors of Chinese Porcelain

ow to take care lacquer ware


Know your terminology

Clocks (Timepiece) (4 December 1997)
Lever Escapements (26 April 1998)
Wrist watches (7 August 1997)

Dating Watches and Clocks

Bulle Clocks By John Hubby (2 August 1998)
Chelsea Clocks by Mike Murray and Bob Setnik (9 August 1998)
Clock Dating Reference Books etc. (4 October 1998)
French Clocks by Kerry Rasmussen (9 August 1998)
Gustav Becker Clocks (1 November 1998)
Hermle & FHS clocks (1 September 1998)
Ingraham Clocks by Murray R. Falk (29 August 1998)
Lenzkrich Clocks (29 November 1998)

General Tips

BA Threads Chart (9 June 1996)
Bluing hints Different techniques discussed (14 July 1996)
British Hallmarking London, Birmingham and Chester (9 March 1997)
British Hallmarking Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh (9 March 1997)
Chimes & Carillons (13 December 1996)
Clock Trademarks - most common ones found in the workshop (13 August 1998)
Gold Plating in the Workshop (14 July 1996)
Historical Notes on enamelling dials (26 May 1996)
Horological Journal Index of practical articles 1994-today
Horological parts, materials, tools and books suppliers (10 January 1999)
Lathe Tips (21 June 1996)
Microscopes in Horology, by Ron Morris (18 March 1997)
Modern Adhesives used in horology (15 April1996)
Poisons in Horology (3 March 1996)
Refinishing and/or Restoring Metal Statuary or Ornamentation by  Ben Fulbright 18 October 1998
Removing broken screws (16 May 1999)
Rust Removal FAQ by Ted Kinsey (30 November 1997)
Rust Removal - Using Tea, By Alan Timmins FBHI (26 July 1998)
Ships clocks striking sequence (8 February
Silvering Dials (24 May 1998)
Soldering hints (1 June 1996)
Standardised Repair marks (3 July 1996)
Swirled finish, or, spotting (7 July 1996)
Why Use IIII and not IV on dials? (6 May 1996)
Why is clockwise Clockwise? by Donn Lathrop (26 October 1997)
Workshop Layout (20 July 1996)

Calculation pages (All use JavaScript)

Beats per Hour (3 and 4 wheel trains) (JS)(1 March 1998)
      Alternative style sheet by David Gregory (JS) (1 March 1998)
Checking Mainspring Lengths (JS)(11 July 1996)
Shortening Mainsprings (JS)(14 May 1996)

Electrical Clocks

Hipp Toggle (and the Postoffice clock No. 36) (1 September 1996)
The Following notes on electrical clock repair are by Mike Frost

Mike Frost's "Current Notes" (7 July 1996)
CN#1 Replacing Motors (7 July 1996)
CN#2 Kienzle movements (7 July 1996)
CN#3 Jefferson Golden Minute clocks (18 July 1996)
CN#4 Coil & Motor Winding 25 August 1996)
CN#5 Car clocks (22 October 1996)
CN#6 Collecting Electrics (29 December 1996)
CN #7, Repair/Restoration Classifications for Synchronous Electric Clocks (8 July 1997)
CN #8, Guidelines for Production Line Quality Restorations (8 July 1997)
CN #9, Guidelines for Collectors Quality Restorations (8 July 1997)
CN #10, Guidelines for Working Quality Restorations (8 July 1997)
CN#11, Repairing the GE Electric Strike Clock (16 November 1997)
CN#12, Repairing Mastercrafters Swingers (21 December 1997)
CN# 13: Repairing A Sessions Motor (24 May 1998)
CN# 14: Comments On Telechron Rotor Repair (22 August 1998)

Quartz Anniversary Clocks (14 July 1996)

Mechanical Clocks

400 day clocks (20 July 1996)
Adjusting Clock Hammers(8 April1996)
Adjusting Minute Hand collets (7 April1996)
Ageing Paper Dials (22 March 1998)
Brocot pallet replacement (2 August 1996)
Bulle clock hints (7 April1996)
Bulle Suspensions - repairing (8 November 1998)
Bushing hints and tips (1 June 1996)
Burnishing pivots (29 January 1996)
Cannon Pinions, removing safely (15 November 1998)
Case Cleaning (2 August 1996)
Case Fumigation (2 August 1996)
Cuckoo clock hints (2 August 1996)
Deadbeat pallets - Grinding (26 April 1998)
Dead centre turning (replacing worn arbor end) by S Callihan FBHI (1 June 1996)
Drilling sheet metal (7 April1996)
Excessive Gear Noise On Strike Train (14 July 1996)
Finding Proper Driving Weight (14 July 1996)
French Clock hints (24 May 1996)
Fusee Clock hints (17 May 1996)
Longcase Clock Hints (20 July 1996)
Mainspring hints (16 February 1997)
Marking holes in a dial
(7 April1996)
Pivot - Replacing (1 March1998)
Pivot Straightening (5 April1996)
Polishing slate clock cases (5 April1996)
Porcelain Dials Repair and cleaning hints (26 May 1996)
Punching holes in suspensions (9 June 1996)
Replacing Gold Lacquer (6 May 1996)
Replacing plaster in bezels (4 December 1995)
Replacing missing chime rods and tubes by Alan Emmerson (22 November 1998)
Smoky clock cases, removing the smell (7 July 1996)
Sources of steel for suspension springs, clicks & soft iron wire etc. (3 November 1996)
Splicing 30 hour a clock rope (2 June 1997)
Transporting Longcase Clocks (7 October 1996)
Trouble shooting tips (9 June 1996)
Wheel cutting hints (20 July 1996)


Adjusting Bearings on a watchmaker's lathe (7 July 1996)
Broach handles (25 January 1998)
Care of tweezers by W R Smith (10 January 1999)
Commercial Clock Mainspring Winders (25 January 1998)
Examining pins
for fast assembly and disassembly of clock plates (3 March1996)
Inserting hand pins in arbors (6 May 1996)
Lathe Supports (18 February 1996)
Making a screw head Polisher (21 April1996)
Mainspring length gauge (20 April1996)
Mainspring length gauge with no moving parts by Michael J Helfrich (6 September 1998)
Sharpening gear cutters (14 July 1996)
Simple Work holding jigs (21 April1996)
Universal Letdown Key By Mike McCreery (4 January 1998)


Automatic Mainsprings By A Burtoft. MBHI(10 January 1999)
Catching Small Parts by A Burtoft MBHI (24 May 1998)
Checking a jewelled lever escapement by A Burtoft MBHI (14 June 1998)
Fitting watch backs (19 April1996)
Lubricating Quartz Watches by A Burtoft MBHI (11 October 1998)
Polishing watch crystals (21 June 1996)
Releasing Stuck Push Buttons on Watches By Manuel Jean Y. (6 December 1998)
Time keeping - Positional Error   by A Burtoft MBHI (5 July 1998)
Watch servicing check sheet (25 December 1995)
Watch Sizes - Quick reference chart, by M Smallman (18 May 1997)

Other Technical Horological Information on the Internet

General Tips

Atmos Dating techniques
Atmos owners guide
Evaluating clocks
FAQ: Roman IIII vs. IV on Clock Dials
FAQ: The Origin of Hours and Minutes
Mike Murray's repair pages , most NOT in html format
Suggested Reading
Sylvester A Crowley, General hints & tips


A Guide to Weather Forecasting using a Barometer
Conversion table for mm Mercury (Hg) to inches of Mercury to Millibars
How to Move and Handle a Barometer
How to Read a Mercury Barometer
Replacing a Barometer Tube

Electrical Clocks

Golden Hour Repair Tips
Electrical horology - the basic principles

Mechanical Clocks

Atmos bellows repair
Clock Striking
Longcase Clocks that Don't Work. Solutions to Common Problems
Train counts for clocks


Henry Ford Museum

Care of Artifacts

Antique Textiles and Costumes
Archival Materials
Brass and Bronze
Furniture and Wooden Objects
Glass and Ceramics
Historical Iron
Historical Silver
Historic Tabby
Log Buildings
Oil Paintings
Photographic Prints
Works of Art on Paper




Polishing, Cleaning and Dusting

Silver and Plated Ware




Brief history of Russian icons

The Best Research Site for Clocks and Watches!



Appraisals & Sales

   How do you become an appraiser?
   How to get a good appraisal
   The Right Price for Your Antique
   Real or Plastic? Smell the Smoke
   Tools of the Trade

American Indian & Ethnographia
   African Americana

Art Nouveau, Art Deco & Arts-&-Crafts
   Roycroft: Community Crafts

Books & Ephemera
   Caring for Rare Books

Clocks & Watches
   "Electro"-fying Clocks

Collectibles & Memorabilia
   Collecting for Tomorrow, Today
   Collecting Cameos
   "Electro"-fying Clocks
   Baseball Collectibles: Hitting a Home Run

   Buying Antique Jewelry
   Collecting Cameos
   Gazing into Lovers' Eyes

   Collecting Tools

Musical Instruments
   Violins: Buy American

   Porcelain Paintings, Durable Art
   Gazing into Lovers' Eyes

Pottery & Porcelain
   Chinese or Japanese porcelain?
   Sensing Ceramic Defects
   Matching Missing China
   Detecting Fabergé Fakes
   Porcelain Paintings, Durable Art
   Fanciful Figurines

Prints & Drawings
   Study Drawings: a Perfect Choice
   Searching Out Maps

   Judaica: A Mix of Culture and Faith

Rugs, Quilts & Textiles
   Oriental Carpets: Ready When You Are
   Preserving Your Antique Quilt

Scientific & Technological Artifacts
   Collecting Corkscrews
   Collecting Tools

   Colonial Silver
   Sheffield Plate or Electroplate?
   Making an Impression

Toys, Dolls & Games
   Character Dolls




Conservation/Preservation Information for the General Public


Sources on Conservators OnLine Web Site


Altering Hide Glue with Additives

Clarke Historical

Central Michigan






General articles

Mold: A Follow-up

Mold: The Whole Picture, Pt. 1

Fumigation and related techniques

First results of a pilot decontamination in a PCP polluted building by means of a humidity controlled thermal process

Non-Toxic Fumigation & Alternative Control Techniques for Preserving Cultural/Historic Properties & Collections: Notes on a Conference

A Comparison of Three Gaseous Fumigants: Vikane, Ethylene Oxide and Methyl Bromide,

Chicora Foundation
Managing: The Museum Environment

Emergency Salvage of Flood Damaged Family Papers

Procedures for Salvage of Water Damaged Library Materials

Health issues

Mold as a Threat to Human Health, Abbey Newsletter Volume 18, Number 6, Oct 1994

Resources intended for the general public

American Institute for Conservation (AIC)
Tips for Water Damage to Family Heirlooms and Other Valuables, 11 May 1995
Library of Congress Preservation Directorate
Preservation FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)
Beth Patkus
Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper
Mold: Its Causes and How to Reduce the Threat.

Resources at other sites

A Virtual Exhibition of the Ravages of Dust, Water, Moulds, Fungi, Bookworms and other Pests
Colorado Preservation Alliance


Basic principles of conservation


Articles preserving your photographs   care of skins and fur
  preservation of outdoor wooden sculpture caring for medals
  packing/transporting fragile objects care of wooden furniture
  preserving fans keep the bugs out
  conserving books   caring for gems and jewelry
  preserving fossils   permanence of art materials
  care of books   preservation of drawings
  Relative Humidity   preserve your works of art

Papers Conserving Biology Collections
  Conserving 3 Dimensional Artifacts
  Conserving Textiles and Accessions





[Arms & Armour] - [Books & Manuscripts] - [Carpets]
[Clocks & Watches] - [Furniture] - [Glass] - [Ivories]
[Jewellery] - [Metalware] - [Paintings] - [Pottery & Porcelain]
[Prints] - [Silver] - [Tapestries] - [Insurance]


How to Care For...

Paper Documents and Newspaper Clippings
Paper Documents & Newspaper Clippings

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