Frequently Asked Questions

Where Do Art Conservators Work?

Art conservators often work for public institutions such as regional and national museums or galleries, libraries and archives; in historic properties; or in private sector conservation practices. Some conservators choose to run their own practice.

What Is the Role of an Art Conservator?

The fundamental role of an art conservator is to preserve pieces of our collective history so these artworks can be enjoyed by future generations.

What Tasks Do Art Conservators Undertake?

Art conservators will typically undertake a range of tasks, including finding out how an artwork was made to determine what may be causing environmental damage and formulating a plan to prevent further deterioration. They also undertake specialist practices and techniques to preserve an artwork in its current condition.

Other tasks could include removing water or mould, cleaning the piece, restoring frames and refreshing detail or colour.

What Experience Does Someone Need to Become an Art Conservator?

Typically, a prospective art conservator needs extensive experience as a fine artist. They usually begin with either an entry level or apprentice position (with at least two years of experience behind them) before attaining a professional role where they are in charge of projects.

What Does an Art Conservation Apprenticeship Involve?

Undertaking an apprenticeship forms part of most art conservation degree programmes. This typically involves working for an existing conservator for between 400 and 4,000 hours over the course of the apprenticeship. The aim is to give the student the hands-on experience required to qualify as an art conservator.

What Qualities Should an Art Conservator Possess?

A passion for and extensive knowledge of art is crucial, along with great problem-solving skills. Attention to detail is vital too, as is careful handling skills and patience; a restoration project can take months – or even years – to complete.

Why Is Creativity So Important in Art Conservation?

Very old pieces of art that require restoration may have been made using materials that can no longer be sourced. In such cases, conservators must think creatively to recreate materials using alternative means – and at times even imitate the style of the artist to restore the work in an unobtrusive and sensitive way. Restorers and conservators will often spend a significant amount of time studying the best way to recreate minute details of an artist’s work to achieve the best outcome possible.