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About Conservation

Caring for Your Treasures

More Resources

Whether you own one heirloom or an entire collection of artworks, proper care is necessary to preserve it for future generations. The following is a general selection of resources intended to help you learn more about preserving and caring for your treasured possessions.

Find these resources online or at your local museum store, bookstore, or library:

Heritage Preservation, ed. Caring for your Collections: Preserving and Protecting Your Art and Other Collectibles. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1992. (208 p.)

From Library Journal
Written by an impressive group of conservator experts, this book is a comprehensive and practical guide to preserving collectible objects often found in the hands of the private collector. Each chapter covers a specific art form, ranging from paintings, works of art on paper, books, and photographs to furniture, textiles, ceramics and glass, metal, stone, musical instruments, and various ethnographic objects. Preventative maintenance is stressed, but the authors follow up the do's and dont's of routine care with recommendations on what to do if damage occurs, often utilizing before-and-after photos….Recommended for public libraries or any collection concerned with preservation. 
-Vicki Gadberry, Harris Media Ctr., Mars Hill Coll., N.C. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. 

Landrey, Gregory.The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collection.Winterthur, DE: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2000. (154 p.)

The second volume in the Winterthur Decorative Arts Series, The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collection provides readers with practical advice on how to care for the objects they value. With chapters devoted to media ranging from paper and photographs to metalwork and textiles, the volume presents a lucid approach to teaching the practical skills of conservation--what to do and what not to do. Should you polish the silver? Where is the best place to store that family Bible? And what about the worn area in Aunt Alice's sampler? Should you try to repair the damage? The conservators at Winterthur call on their many years of experience to address the types of problems that collectors commonly encounter. Their advice and expertise will benefit all those concerned about the proper care of the objects they cherish.

Long, Jane S. and Richard W. Caring for Your Family Treasures: A Concise Guide to Caring for Your Cherished Belongings. Heritage Preservation. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2000. (165 p.)

From Library Journal
Although there are plenty of guidebooks on preserving museum-quality antiques, this book is unique in that it focuses on the care and handling of precious family heirlooms such as old silver, wedding gowns, scrapbooks, photos, books, and dolls. It was assembled under the guidance of Heritage Preservation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving cultural artifacts, sites, natural science specimens, buildings, and works of art. (It has also published the highly regarded Caring for Your Collections and, more recently, Caring for Your Historic House.) In addition to providing solid and easy-to-understand information on object preservation, the book offers advice on where to find archival supplies, genealogical information, and, if need be, a professional conservator. The many color photos show how artifactual damage is caused and in some instances how it can be treated. Highly recommended for all public libraries and for decorative arts collections everywhere. 
- Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

MacLeish, A. Bruce. The Care of Antiques and Historical Collections, 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Altamira Press, 1985. (250 p.)

From Amazon.com
The Care of Antiques and Historical Collections is a wonderful handbook that gives you and your staff the crucial knowledge you need to start and maintain sound programs of storage, display and environmental control for your historical artifacts. Providing instruction for both the expert and novice conservationist, MacLeish offers sound advice on how you can take a few active measures to protect, clean, repair, and care for objects most commonly found in museums or private collections. This is MacLeish's fully revised and greatly expanded edition of Per E. Gudbeck's classic "The Care of Historical Collections".

Williams, Don. Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions. New York, NY: Fireside. 2005 (368 p.)

From Publishers Weekly
From a fragile antique quilt to a child's macaroni artwork, this book offers expert advice on saving those priceless objects from entropy for the "museum of you." Williams, senior conservator at the Smithsonian Institute, shares his extensive knowledge on the art of preservation, offering at-home techniques for battling damage from light, humidity, rodents and other pests, like careless friends and family members. Divided into easily navigable chapters, the book offers step-by-step guidelines, lists of supplies needed and numerous rules for preserving everything from "family treasures" to "really valuable stuff," with specifics on caring for objects including record players, political memorabilia, fine art, vintage clothing and more. Sidebars detail tips (e.g. how to turn the pages of a vintage book), bust myths (don't store silver in plastic wrap-it'll cause tarnish) and offer "Smithsonian Stories," quirky anecdotes about the Institution's collection. Peppered with personal stories by Jaggar, an amateur collector, about her past maintenance mess-ups, the book is written in clear, concise language that explains these professional techniques to any reader looking to safeguard his loot.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

When to consult a conservator

If further advice or conservation treatment is needed, contact a professional conservator. Conservators combine in-depth knowledge of science and art with extensive practical experience to care for and preserve art objects, artifacts, and other items of cultural and historic value.

Use our Find a Conservator tool to locate a conservator near you.

These recommendations are intended for guidance only. AIC does not assume responsibility or liability.