Filling the Gaps #9 Past, Present and Future Conservation Treatments

The ninth Filling the Gaps survey is now online, investigating existing reviews of current conservation practices for better long-term planning and research into potential future techniques.

The National Heritage Science Strategy evidence report highlighted a need for additional research in the following areas:

  1. Revisiting current treatment options and operational procedures to:
    • assess the cost/benefit of existing treatment methods; ineffective treatments can lead to higher conservation and collection management costs in the future
    • ascertain whether anecdotal reporting of the deterioration of conserved objects are justified (e.g. recent questions about the long-term stability of PEG treated wood)
    • ensure that current treatments do not unintentionally reduce information retrieval; the information that can be recovered from heritage assets now is greater than when some treatments were devised (such as DNA from natural history collections, organic residues from ceramics)
    • consider the impact of standard procedures – for example, dusting and cleaning objects on display, or washing of archaeological finds
    • evaluate whether current techniques will still be appropriate in a changing climate.
  2. Further development of the following:
    • nanotechnology (for example, nanodeposition of calcium hydroxide for consolidation of wall paintings)
    • biotechnology (further testing of microbial cleaning and consolidation of stone)
    • improved methods of digitisation of paper and audio-visual material
    • further development of digital x-radiography
    • research into new coatings, particularly for outdoor metals (such as superhydrophobic materials)
    • laser cleaning (and its use on a larger range of materials)
    • treatments for modern materials
    • re-scaling of existing treatments, to be available at larger (i.e. laser cleaning) or smaller or more portable (i.e. mass de-acidification) scales
  3. Research into new materials for use for conservation purposes, including:
    • lightweight strong materials, i.e. high tensile strength thread for displaying beadwork
    • new absorbent materials to control pollution and moisture
    • inert materials that can be used in treatment to improve the retention of shape (for example in all stages of the conservation of waterlogged archaeological leather)

If you know of any research, completed or underway, published or unpublished, touching on the above topics, please let us know by filling in our online form. Our only requirement is that the research started in or after 2009. No need to fill in all the fields – but the more information you can provide, the more useful a resource we can create for the heritage science community.

Many thanks for your contribution – please don’t hesitate to share this link!

National Heritage Science Forum

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