Core Documents

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice

Commentary 8 - Supervision

The subject of this Guideline, work delegated to others that will be supervised by a conservation professional, is assumed to be conservation work only. Work subcontracted to other professional fields (architecture, engineering, etc) is included only in the aspects directly related to the conservation of cultural property.

  1. Rationale
    • Supervision helps to ensure that:
      • delegated conservation work is carried out;
      • conservation work carried out by those under the supervision of the conservation professional, including paid and unpaid assistants, is performed in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.
    • Notifying the authorized agent of the delegation or subcontracting of work helps to ensure that the authorized agent can make an informed decision regarding the appropriate care of a cultural property.
  2. Minimum Accepted Practice
    • Conservation professionals must ensure that persons under their supervision are able to carry out the delegated conservation work as instructed.
    • The conservation professional must take all appropriate steps to ensure that work delegated to other conservation professionals is carried out in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.
    • Supervisors must share ethical responsibility for any violation of the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice by those being supervised.
    • When directly supervising treatments carried out by students, interns and volunteers, the conservator must be qualified by training and experience in the applicable specialty.
  3. Recommended Practice
    • Conservation professionals should limit their oversight of subcontractors to areas in which they are qualified by training and experience.
    • When work is being subcontracted, the supervisor should be thoroughly familiar with the previous experience and practice of the subcontractor.
    • When work is to be carried out by personnel not directly selected by the conservation professional, reservations about qualifications and a disclaimer of responsibility should be put in writing before work begins in order to protect both the cultural property and the conservation professional. Under these circumstances, close supervision is essential. If improper practices are observed, work should be stopped immediately.
  4. Special Practice
    • In emergency situations, it may be necessary for the conservation professional to delegate tasks to those immediately available and to proceed without notifying the custodian. Although the possibility of direct supervision may be limited, the conservation professional must make every effort to ensure that the work is being carried out in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.


Approved by the AIC Board May 30, 2001.