The conservator's work

Conservators are normally designated according to their field of specialization. For example, there are painting, furniture and textile conservators. Often these specialists are referred to by only one of the terms in their title, and for the sake of brevity they will be called conservators in the following pages. Archaeological conservators must have the necessary knowledge and experience to be able to work in collaboration with archaeologists and their teams. Every step of this work should reflect the professional guidelines first drawn up in Canada by members of the CAC in 1986. Published as the “Code of Ethics and Guidance for Practice,” these guidelines provide a frame of reference for professionals working in conservation.

While conservators may sometimes be needed in the field, most of their work generally takes place in a laboratory furnished with special equipment. Some of this equipment is of the sort found in science labs: microscopes and precision instruments, as well as exhaust hoods and trunks for evacuating fumes emitted by chemicals. Other equipment, such as scalpels and small tools for fine work, might also be found in a dentist’s office or surgery room.