Saving Your Treasures: Preserve

Saving Your Treasures


Preservation Principles




If you find you need the services of a professional conservator, you can find one by using the referral service of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. This service will give you a list of conservators in your area for the type of object you have questions about. If you are in the middle of the country, you can contact the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center. You can also visit the Regional Alliance for Preservation website for information and the location of conservators. All websites are listed to the right.

The Ford Conservation Center

The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center is a regional conservation facility that is part of the Nebraska State Historical Society. The Ford Conservation Center offers services to private individuals, public museums and libraries, corporations, and state and federal agencies. Services include the conservation examination and treatment of objects, consulting on many collection-related topics, educational activities, public outreach programming, and assessments and surveys of collections.

Services offered:

  • Examination. Objects requiring varying levels of technical study and evaluation can be brought to the Ford Conservation Center for examination. Examination may be requested as a prelude to conservation treatment or as an effort to better understand the object. The staff conservators can assist in recommending and facilitating scientific testing and can interpret technical data generated during analysis.

  • Treatment. Treatment services are available for a wide range of object types, including works of art on paper, archival collections, photographs, ceramics, glass, metals, leather, organic materials, textiles, and other composite objects. Treatment services vary from simple preventive stabilization to complete treatment and cosmetic reintegration.

  • Consultation. Conservators at the Ford Center are available to consult on a wide variety of issues related to collection care and conservation. Advice is available on topics such as storage techniques, exhibition materials, new museum construction, and object housings.

  • Collection Management Consultations. Assistance is available for those faced with making decisions about all aspects of collection management, including crate construction, mount design, material selection, storage techniques, housing materials, framing, matting, and many other issues relating to collection use and care. The Ford Center conservators can provide up-to-date technical information for collectors and museum professionals.

  • Assessments. Conservation assessments of institutional and private collections are available. Conservators will provide a written overview of the institution or collection and its efforts in collection preservation that includes an evaluation of storage areas, exhibition techniques, pest control methods, housekeeping, and any other factors that affect the long-term survival of objects.

  • Surveys. Surveys to document the condition and treatment needs of individual objects in a collection can be conducted by Ford Center staff. A specific report detailing the condition, treatment priority, and conservation needs for each object can be prepared with an overall review provided as a planning tool for the long-term conservation of a collection.

  • Educational Activities and Training. The Ford Center provides lectures and workshops on a variety of topics for many audiences. Lectures and clinics are available to the public, workshops and programs are offered for the museum and collecting community, and specialized sessions are available for conservation professionals. We welcome prearranged visits by groups.

  • Emergency Preparedness. The Ford Center staff can assist with the preparation of emergency preparedness plans, training, and drills. The staff is available in the event of an emergency and can provide on-site response, as well as long-term collection treatment.

How does One Go about Getting an Object Conserved?

  1. Make an appointment to have a conservator examine your objects and give you a verbal indication of what needs to be done, what can be done, and how much it might cost (Examiniation = about $40).

  2. If you decide to proceed, you need to pay a conservator to prepare a written proposal of work with a formal written estimate of costs (Proposal = about $100). This documentation can be used for insurance purposes.

  3. The conservator will prepare a written list of treatment steps needed and will test your object to be sure the methods and materials are safe and effective. The proposal and estimate will be mailed to you.

  4. Read the proposal and estimate and decide whether or not to have the work done. If you do decide to have the work done, sign the proposal and estimate and return them to the conservator. This will give the conservator permission to proceed with the treatment. (Costs depend on treatment proposed.)

  5. After the treatment work is completed, you will be billed for the work. After payment is received, you can arrange a time to come and pick up your object from the conservator. They should give you before and after treatment documentation images and a written treatment report for your permanent records.

Why Do I Need an Appointment?

Conservators do a lot of work off site, in museums for example, often in other cities and states, so they may not be at the conservation center when you arrive without an appointment. Conservation labs cannot accept the liability of having objects dropped off, nor do they have the storage space to keep many objects. When you make an appointment, the staff will make sure someone is there to meet with you and help you move or carry your object. They will prepare a safe place to put your object so it can be unpacked and examined. Without an appointment, these steps cannot be done prior to your arrival.