Second, the conservator treats the object. A treatment may consist of stabilization or restoration. A conservator stabilizes objects to halt the deterioration processes. The conservator sometimes restores objects, making the objects look more like they did sometime in the past. Conservators document all steps in the treatment process using written reports and photographs.

Stabilization stops or slows deterioration and keeps more damage from occurring. For example, the conservator may consolidate flaking paint on a surface by adding a small amount of a stable glue beneath each individual flake. A fragile piece of acidic, yellowed paper may be washed in special solutions to remove deterioration products caught in the paper fibers. A fragile object may be supported on a specially designed and constructed mount.

Conservators often stop their treatment with stabilization. It is not always necessary to restore an object. Often damage will reveal internal details. For example in the broken edge of a potsherd you can see materials added to the clay that are hidden on the smooth and polished surface. Stabilization does not attempt to make the object look new.