The best way to preserve your own family heirlooms such as your grandmother's wedding dress or your father's baseball cards is to use preventive conservation. Preventive conservation means protecting objects from harm, instead of fixing problems after they occur. The best thing you can do for your treasures is control light levels, limit temperature and relative humidity fluctuations, and avoid pest infestations. Even simple common-sense practices like handling your ojects carefully will help your own collections to survive longer. To find information about preventive conservation on the web look at Conservation OnLine (CoOL).

When your special objects do get damaged or deteriorate there are several ways you can find a conservator to give you advice or do treatment. Private conservators and laboratories provide services to the general public. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) maintains a free service that can provide you with the names of conservators in your area or conservators that have specific expertise for your precious belongings. You can contact the AIC office at:

1717 K Street, NW, Suite 200,
Washington DC, 20006;
(202) 452-9545;
fax: (202) 452-9328;

AIC also has a webpage at:

When selecting a conservator be sure and evaluate their credentials and expertise. AIC can provide you with Guidelines for Selecting a Conservator.