The conservation area at Glenbow Museum consists of three labs:
- paintings and sculpture.
Each lab has a conservator who is specially trained to understand and repair the materials in their designated collections.
- The paper conservator deals with any object created from paper. This includes, but is not limited to, watercolours, prints, drawings, photographs, and books.
- The object conservator works mainly on artifacts from the ethnographic, cultural history, and military history collections. This covers a vast array of substances, from leather to plastic and everything in between.
- The paintings and sculpture conservator works on paintings in media such as oil or acrylic on canvas, wood, and other materials, and also cares for the Museum's collection of bronze, stone, and mixed media sculpture.
What is conservation?
Conservation is the profession that deals with the stabilization and repair of cultural property. Conservation attempts to care for an object in order to maintain it, as much as possible, in its current condition, including wear and "historic dirt." It includes preventative conservation, documentation, treatment, and, if necessary, restoration.
What do the conservation professionals at Glenbow do?
The conservators ensure that artifacts in the collection last as long as possible and that the artifacts can be displayed for public and research purposes.
The first avenue of protection is preventive conservation. Preventive conservation includes things such as building maintenance, environmental monitoring, and "integrated pest management." It deals with deciding on the long term needs of objects, including controlling light levels, humidity, temperature, creating storage mounts, and using proper materials. By placing objects in an environment as ideal as possible, you can slow the aging process, making the objects last longer. If an object is damaged or disfigured a conservator can treat the artifact. For different materials this means different things. Sometimes it could be as simple as dusting, or it could involve intensive chemical treatments. See some conservation treatments in Behind the Scenes.
How do I find information about caring for my artifacts?
Any treatment on an artifact involves a degree of risk and should be done by a professional qualified to treat the material. For information on the basic care of family treasures and antiques, these websites are helpful:
Canadian Conservation Institute Resources - This site has several resources that provide information on caring for artworks and artifacts.
Conserve O Grams - This site has short notes on various topics of interest to individuals who have collections of fine arts, furniture, ceramics and glass, leather work, books and papers.
Guides for Taking Care of Your Personal Heritage - This site has a number of brochures on caring for various heritage objects.
How do I find a conservator?
Conservators can be somewhat difficult to find as there are few in private practice in Western Canada. However here are some suggested sites to search.
Canadian Association of Professional Conservators - The Canadian Association of Professional Conservators (CAPC) is the national accrediting body for conservators, and they have a listing of members both geographically and by speciality.
More Information about Conservation