Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "work on paper?"
The phrase "work on paper" indicates that the medium - printing ink, manuscript ink, paint, pastel, pencil, or other media - is applied directly to a paper support. This primary paper support may then be adhered to a secondary material (which may or may not be paper); regardless, the work will still fall under the purview of a paper conservator. Photographs are an exception; they require the expertise of a photo conservator. 

What is conservation?
Conservation is often confused with restoration. Conservation is intended to improve the chemical and physical stability of the object while retaining as much of the original as possible; restoration is intended to return an object to its original appearance. Although not the primary focus of conservation, conservation treatments will often also enhance the aesthetic appearance of an object. 

"Conservation involves examination, scientific analysis, and research to determine original structure, materials, and extent of loss. Conservation also encompasses structural and environmental treatment to retard future deterioration." (American Institute for Conservation) 

How long will it take to complete treatment?
We address projects in the order in which they formally enter the lab. Our usual backlog is about 3-4 months, with some projects taking less time and others taking more. If treatment needs to be completed within a certain timeframe - e.g., an exhibition deadline - let us know when you bring the piece in and we will try to accommodate your needs. 

Can I get advice on how to care for my objects?
We consider providing preventive maintenance information the final step in the conservation process. If desired, we can provide guidelines on how to mat and frame objects, and recommend framers who adhere to conservation standards. Our lab is equipped to fabricate custom archival housings and assist in locating appropriate materials for long-term storage. 

Can you tell me what an object is worth?
No. It is considered a conflict of interest for a conservator to evaluate the financial worth of an object and then propose a cost for treatment of that object. We can, however, provide lists of reputable dealers and appraisers who evaluate works of art, archival materials, and books, both for resale and insurance purposes. 

Related organizations

American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works 

Conservation On-Line - Resources for conservation professionals 

Regional Alliance for Preservation - Association of regional conservation centers in the US 

Northeast Document Conservation Center - Leaflets on preservation and lists of suppliers