• Part of a roofline shows from one building. Trees with fall color leaves on them fill most of the photo. A lamp-post is near center of the photo.

    Harpers Ferry Center

Conservation Programs

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Artifact Treatment

A wide range of artifact treatments takes place in our conservation laboratories. The conservators will also travel to park sites for some treatment projects. Our Conservation Facilities section describes our seven treatment laboratories. Our Conservation Treatments section provides examples of the variety and scope of our work.

Technical Assistance

Staff is available to join a collection management team and help a park create a Collection Management Plan. The conservators also perform Collection Condition Surveys documenting the condition and treatment needs of individual objects in park collections. The resulting report will help to prioritize treatments, make recommendations to improve long term preservation of collections, and develop cost estimates for budget documents.

Preventive conservation seeks to slow or prevent serious deterioration of collections caused by inadequate storage or display techniques, improper environmental conditions, or poor handling. An emphasis on preventive care will minimize the need for conservation treatment. Staff can provide information, assistance and direct park staff to additional resources on all aspects of a preventive conservation program. We can help you:

  • Know the causes of object deterioration
  • Recognize active deterioration
  • Monitor and control the collection environment
  • Initiate an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM)
  • Provide guidance on artifact handling, storage, and display
  • Develop housekeeping or preventive care plans

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) assistance is provided by our IPM coordinator. Help is available to establish an IPM program at your site or if you want to use a database to track your existing program. For more information, go to our Frequently Asked Questions

Disaster and emergency response planning, advice, and information is available. Our staff recently responded to disaster situations caused by Hurricane Sandy and flooding conditions at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Their on-site expertise significantly helped to recover collections. We can also help park staff identify hazards, assess risk, and develop response measures.

Training Opportunities

The conservation staff regularly conducts courses and workshops in the curatorial care of museum collections. These training sessions are held at Harpers Ferry Center or in field locations. Training is available on any of the topics covered in the Museum Handbook, Part 1. The experience can also be tailored to the specific needs and issues of a park site.

Our class methods promote an appropriate and practical preservation approach to museum collections, whether in storage or on exhibit. The sessions use hands-on and problem-based learning to achieve course objectives.

For information on how to schedule or develop a training activity at your site, contact us (telephone: 304-535-6139; email: HFC_Conservation@nps.gov).


Internships are also offered to conservation students at the graduate level. Graduate students entering the field of conservation come to HFC to work in a laboratory for either a summer or a full year. These internships are offered to students in recognized training programs and are organized through a cooperative agreement with their graduate school. Year-long advanced internships are also available to graduates.

Technical Studies & Research

Our conservators have a wide range of experience, interests, expertise and contacts. These services provide information about artifacts that enhance their presentation and interpretation. Current capabilities include:

  • Optical microscopy/photomicrography for fiber identification
  • Wood analysis
  • Oddy test for pollution off-gassing

Exhibit Conservation

Exhibit Conservation is the preservation specialty that focuses on practical techniques that protect museum collections while on display. It includes information necessary for exhibit specialists to ensure a preservation-responsible approach to planning and design. Learn more about Exhibit Conservation

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