Art Conservation and Restoration


There are many terms and phrases in the art world that are often confused. The most commonly misunderstood terms are art conservation and artistic restoration. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are many differences between them.

While they both deal with improving the appearance of works of art, restoration and conservation have very different approaches to how works of art are treated and restored. When a person who wants to restore his work of art confuses these terms, he may end up giving his valuable work of art into the wrong hands.

In this article, we will try to explain the three main differences between these two kinds of art preservation and clear up any misconceptions about these two areas of work.

Different definitions and focus

The biggest difference between these types of art preservation lies in their different definitions. So, what is the real difference between conservation and restoration?

Conservation efforts are directed toward preserving the original work. Art conservation involves cleaning, repairing, and often removing old restoration attempts.

Art restoration techniques are mainly used to restore a piece of art back to its original appearance or function. This means that the restoration focuses primarily on aesthetics and not on its original form. Some restorers may not consider the long-term damaging effects of using certain materials on a product.

Various certification and training requirements

Another big difference between the types of art preservation is the required level of training. While it is true that education and certifications may not be the best measure of ability, it is certainly more convenient to leave something as important as fine art in the hands of a trained and certified restorer.

Conservatives must undergo rigorous training and certification before they can be certified. Most conservators receive post-graduate training that covers many different areas that can be associated with art preservation.

Art restorers are not required to have any special training or certifications. Most restorers are experienced artists who can improve the overall look of a piece. But some of them may not have sufficient knowledge to ensure that the restoration projects are not irreparably damaged during the restoration process. That is why it is incredibly important to choose the right restorer by asking for their experience, references, and a portfolio of past works.

Contrasting Core Values and Methods

As we mentioned earlier, conservation efforts are directed at preserving an item, while restoration is aimed at improving its appearance. The main concern of the restorer is to preserve the integrity of the original work. The ability to reverse a conservator’s work ensures that the original work remains unchanged and the artist’s vision for the piece isn’t compromised.

An art restorer’s concern is the look of the piece. Restoration projects sometimes may require additional restorations in the future.


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