Core Documents

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice

Commentary 5 - Communication

  1. Rationale
    • Open exchange of information, ideas and considerations serves to:
      • Ensure that the conservation professional is aware of any conditions which may have a bearing on the conservation action or recommendation.
      • Ensure that any action which may cause change to a cultural property is undertaken with full knowledge, awareness, and agreement between the conservation professional and the owner, custodian or authorized agent (i.e. "responsible party") whether a private individual or a public institution.
      • Protect the interests and legal rights of the responsible party, conservation professional, and cultural property through an informed decision making process.
      • Facilitate the identification and resolution of potential conflicts and unrealistic expectations.
  2. Minimum Accepted Practice
    • The responsible party for the cultural property must be identified before any action is begun.
    • The conservation professional must communicate to the responsible party the conservation professional's need to review any previously prepared reports or other documentation, such as photographs and work records on the cultural property's history, conditions and/or previous treatments.
    • The conservation professional must endeavor to be fully informed about the responsible party's expectations concerning the results of a proposed treatment.
    • The conservation professional must communicate with the responsible party to assure that the relevant interests, rights and expectations of others are considered. These may include the artist's/maker's rights and wishes, cultural beliefs that may affect treatment considerations, and the end use of the cultural property in question.
    • The conservation professional must fully inform the responsible party of treatment procedures that may cause permanent change to the cultural property. (see Commentary 26)
    • The conservation professional must keep the responsible party informed of any significant discoveries made during treatment, significant changes to the treatment plan (seeCommentary 26,B) including treatment schedule, or any accidental damage that may have occurred to the cultural property during treatment.
  3. Recommended Practice
    • The conservation professional should be available for continued communication with the responsible party throughout the course of conservation work.
    • In long or multi-phase projects, it may be advisable to keep the responsible party informed of progress at regular intervals.
    • In communicating with the responsible party, the conservation professional should use non-technical language, where possible, and utilize mock-ups, test panels, or sample treatment areas where appropriate.
  4. Special Practice
    • In circumstances, such as an accident or a disaster, in which it is not feasible to establish communication with the responsible party, the conservation professional may act independently only to reduce the risk of further damage to the cultural property. Communication with the responsible party must be established as soon as possible.


Approved by the AIC Board January 2000.