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Collections Care and Conservation

The Collections Care and Conservation department is responsible for the care of Birmingham’s large and important collections that range from art to archaeology and from industry to ethnography.

Like most museums only a small percentage of the collections are on display at any one time as we simply do not have the space to display everything! We also have to limit the exposure of delicate items to damaging factors such as light and pollution.

We care for our collections in two ways. Firstly we try to ensure that we store and display them in such a way as to minimise damage by controlling factors such as light, humidity and insects, we call this collections care. We also treat objects by cleaning and stabilising them so that they can be enjoyed by our visitors, we call this conservation.

See more images of the department on flickr.

Collection Care

We want to care for our collections so that they can be enjoyed by you today and by people in the future. All things fall apart over time so we try to reduce the factors that cause objects to decay. Examples of this type of work are monitoring for insect pests that will eat collections that are on display and in store and regular cleaning programmes for objects on display.

Conservation

If an object is in poor condition, dirty or broken then we need to clean and repair it before the object is displayed to enable visitors to understand and enjoy it. Examples of this type of work are the removal of a discoloured and dirty varnish layer from a painting or sticking an ivory ornament back together that has fallen apart due to the effects of heat and humidity.

Useful Links

Find out more about the conservation profession -

Institute for Conservation (Icon)
International Council of Museums – Conservation Committee (ICOM-CC)
International Institute for Conservation
The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI)

Find a conservator / restorer  - The Conservation Register

Caring for your own things -

- My Heritage
- RE-Collections
- A new lease of life

Information on conservation issues  - Conservation on Line (Cool)