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Preventive Conservation

Preventive ConservationPreventive conservation encompasses myriad activities that support the long-term preservation of the varied materials that compose artworks. This goal is achieved by creating conditions that slow deterioration and minimize risk of physical damage to the Museum’s collections, thus ensuring that future generations have access to the Hirshhorn collection.

Conservators engage in routine preventive care on a daily basis, whether providing recommendations for safe handling, display and storage, or recording and monitoring environmental trends. Their expertise in identifying artists’ materials and understanding the response of those materials to the environment (light, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pollutants) as well as physical vulnerabilities during use (studying, transporting, and displaying collections) greatly informs preventive conservation activities. Best practices are guided by scientific research as well as the artist’s intent—the latter an important consideration when working with a modern and contemporary collection. Preventive conservation is a team effort that relies on close collaboration between conservators and allied professionals such as registrars, art handlers, building maintenance staff, and mechanical engineers.

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