Thursday, 11 February 2016




It can be be difficult to bring the public into back-of-house areas where conservation takes place without potentially jeopardizing the ongoing work there.

Therefore, video can be a perfect alternative to shedding light on the value of the labour involved in conservation work without exposing delicate / highly breakable / temperamental / damaged / etc. artifacts or artworks to more people than necessary.

I've selected five fantastic videos that have gone live in the last 12 months to give you a visual glimpse into the modern conservation world. All of them offer great tips and suggestions to help improve the conservation practices of other working professionals.

(1) "Conservation Laboratory" @ Arizona State Museum

What happens when everything from a mammoth to ancient pottery passes through your doors? Find out about the extremely diverse conservation that happens at the Arizona State Museum, which also happens to be on a bustling university campus.

(2) "Conservation in Focus: Caravaggio's Crucifixion of Saint Andrew" @ The Cleveland Museum of Art

If art conservation is more closely aligned with your interests, have a look at what the conservation of a highly prized and quite famous piece of art is taken into the care of a conservation department.

(3) "Art Conservation Behind the Scenes" @ Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Objects, and paintings, and textiles, oh my! The conservation staff at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum deals with a vast array of artworks, demonstrating all of the different mediums that art exists in and the different challenges each poses.

(4) "Shipwreck Artifact Conservation" @ St Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

When something has been submerged under water for a period of time, what can conservators do once they're brought to the surface? Watch a team of conservators who specialize in shipwrecks at work!

(5) "Restoring Henry Moore's 'Large Two Forms'" @ The Art Gallery of Ontario

Continuing our train of thought with things exposed to the elements, public art pieces come into contact with wind, rain, snow (depending where they are, of course), sun, and much more. In this video, a larger-than-life piece is revitalized at high speed by a team from the AGO.


If you are a conservator, how do you feel about videotaping your work? If you aren't a conservator, what do you think about the potential for sharing museum work via video?

Please share your thoughts / responses in the comments!


  1. I know from my own experience, there is always a fear that you might mess up on camera (because we are human and sometimes make mistakes). However, I think there is nothing more powerful or magical than seeing a time lapse video of a treatment (because honestly who other than the conservators want to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours staring a a single object).

    These videos also are a great way of reaching out to a larger audience, than anything done in house, and when it comes to garnering support and $$$ towards conservation projects this type of outreach is a great way to inform current supporters of your work as well as reach out to potential supporters.

    1. Cameras always add an extra layer of pressure that audiences may not, since you can replay a possible mistake over and over again once it's recorded, so I agree that can be nerve-wracking. However, the benefits of successful videos can definitely be a fabulous testament to conservation work, yes! Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts as a conservation professional, Nikita.