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What is Conservation?

Conservation activities include preventive conservation, examination, documentation and interventive conservation, which are supported by research and education. Hong Kong Heritage Museum Laboratory
Hong Kong Heritage Museum Laboratory
Hong Kong Museum of Art Laboratory
Hong Kong Museum of Art Laboratory
Hong Kong Museum of History Laboratory
Hong Kong Museum of History Laboratory

Preventive Conservation

It is an integral part of a conservator's work in providing the best conditions for cultural objects to survive. Certain conditions such as intense sunlight, extreme temperatures, high humidity can cause the objects to deteriorate, so the environment is monitored and controlled to provide an optimum balance between the preservation needs of the object and the viewing and operational requirement of the visitors and museum curators. With the application of the wireless environmental monitoring system, conservators can readily collect and monitor environmental data for various museums and off-site storage 24-hour a day on real-time basis via a modem connected to the computer terminal.

Examination

The purpose of examining an object is to find out what it is made of, how it is produced as well as why and how it deteriorates. The conservation laboratories are equipped with the necessary scientific instruments such as X-ray machine, colour spectrophotometer, analytical microscopes, Infra-red Reflectography System, Fourier transform infra-red spectrometer, etc. to facilitate the examination work. Modes of treatment are therefore determined by the results of the examination and conservation needs of the artifacts.

Documentation

Documentation is to record information derived from conservation activities in a permanent format. With the aid of photography and illustrations, conservators will record the physical condition of an object and the details of the treatment. Documentation also covers the general and technological information of the object, its cultural, artistic, historical or archaeological evidences and other recommendations such as handling and storage guidelines. The information is not only useful to conservators for future preservation endeavours, but also meaningful to the study and appreciation of the object.

Interventive Conservation

It aims at prolonging the existence of cultural property by deliberate alteration of its chemical and/or physical aspects. Treatment may consist of stabilization and/or restoration.

Stabilization:

Intends to maintain the integrity of cultural property and to minimize deterioration.

Restoration:

Intends to return cultural property to a known or assumed state, often through the addition of non-original materials.

All treatments are made reversible as far as possible so that they can be removed or undone if necessary, and are designed to be visible with careful examination. In this way, repairs can be detectable and there is no attempt to present a damaged object as perfect.