Though the words “conservation,” “restoration” and “preservation” are often used interchangeably there are subtle difference of meaning.
The term “conservation” generally denotes actions taken to achieve physical and chemical stability of an object of cultural significance. Conservation primarily deals with single items as opposed to collections of items. For paper-based objects such as artworks and books, treatment might involve surface-cleaning to remove dirt, washing to reduce acidity, or mending tears with Japanese paper and starch paste.
“Restoration” includes the process of conservation but extends beyond stabilization in attempting to regain a semblance of the object’s original appearance. In restoring a book, the conservator attempts to retain and incorporate the original materials, such as endpapers, covers and bindings. New materials added in restoration are durable, functional and as unobtrusive as possible with no attempt made at deception. Interventive treatments are reversible to provide for future conservation developments.
“Preservation” refers to more far-reaching activities with the aim of long-term care of an object or collections of objects such as those found in libraries, archives and museums. Preservation can include:
¨ Environmental monitoring for proper humidity and temperature levels
¨ Protecting the storage area from dust, dirt, water, insects and vermin
¨ Proper storage and handling of objects
¨ Housing fragile materials in protective enclosures made of archival quality materials
¨ Conservation framing of documents, photographs and artworks
¨ Individual conservation treatment of objects as necessary
All ECS conservation treatments conform to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice as provided by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)