A woman in blue gloves cleans a large basket.

NPS Photo/Dana Senge

Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventive care, following a strict code of ethics created by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Through conservation, National Park Service collections are preserved for use in education, exhibition, and research.

Did You Know?
There is a woven item in storage that, for many years, no one knew what it was because it had collapsed into a large, flat "pancake." When a conservator treated it in the early 1990's and returned the item to its original shape and size, a huge Pima grain storage basket emerged with another basket hidden inside!

Treatment and Preventive Care
Treatment is performed when an object will continue to fall apart or degrade if left alone. Repairing broken artifacts to regain original shape for research purposes, stabilizing flaking paint layers to preserve the original surfaces of an object, or the slow humidification of leather to relax heavy creasing are common treatments. Preventive care attempts to lessen the damage to objects and archival material by mitigating agents of deterioration, like light, temperature, relative humidity, pests, direct handling, and use.

The Team
Conservators are trained to understand the physical chemistry of materials, how materials change with age and climate, and how their actions to conserve the piece will affect this chemistry. Conservation education and training balances art and science through academics and internships to create a broad range of knowledge and tools to provide gentle care to all artifacts and archival materials.

Get Your Questions Answered
The conservators at WACC are often asked questions about what conservation is, how individuals can get personal heirlooms restored, and much more. Unfortunately, out conservators only work on National Park Service items. Check out the websites below for help!

Last updated: August 8, 2016