Preservation > Introduction
Note: In this survey, "preservation" is considered
a process, not a treatment (see Treatment
section) as considered in the Secretary's Standards. As
such, the NPS definition, below, has been edited and revised to
include new construction as part of this process: the continuum
of ongoing stewardship (see Stewardship
section) and preservation.
"Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying
measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and
materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary
measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses
upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials
and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction.
New exterior additions are
not within the scope of this
treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading
of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required
work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation
project." [Editorial changes for this survey.]
and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties,
Secretary of the Interior, National Park Service
"Preservation means maintaining the fabric of a place in
its existing state and retarding deterioration."
ICOMOS Burra Charter, 1999, Australia
"Preservation: All actions taken to retard deterioration
of, or to prevent damage to, cultural property. Preservation involves
management of the environment and of the conditions of use, and
may include treatment in order to maintain a cultural property,
as nearly as possible, in a stable physical condition. With respect
to material valued exclusively for its information content, for
example some archival material, preservation may include reformatting."
D. Glossary, Code
of Ethics, Canadian Association
for Conservation of Cultural Property and of the Canadian Association
of Professional Conservators
Ch. 3: Preservation: Getting Started (download PDF format file),
I, Museum Collections, Museum
Handbook, Museum Management
Program, National Park Service.
Framework for the Preservation of Museum Collections Wall
Chart, published by the Asociaciòn para la Conservaciòn
del Patrimnio Cultural de las Américas and the Library
of Congress, under licence from the Canadian
Conservation Institute. Available at Preventive
Conservation and the Care of Collections.
This chart outlines various methods that can be used to avoid
or control potential deterioration of museum objects. The rows
list nine agents of deterioration (direct physical forces: thieves,
vandals, displacers; fire; water; pests; contaminants; radiation;
incorrect temperature and incorrect relative humidity), while
the columns present three different levels at which the agent
deterioration can be controlled. The procedures column outlines
actions that can be taken.
for Preservation of Museum Collections, Canadian
The Framework for Preservation of Museum Collections
outlines various methods that can be used to avoid or control
potential deterioration to museum objects. This online version
is based on the popular wall chart available from CCI.
The rows list nine agents of deterioration that affect museum
objects, and include the type of damage that each can cause.
The first five agents (direct physical forces; thieves, vandals,
and displacers; fire; water; and pests) are widespread throughout
the world. The last four agents (contaminants; radiation; incorrect
temperature; and incorrect relative humidity) are of particular
concern to museums. The agents are listed in rough order of
importance according to their potential for damaging artifacts.
Each term chosen describes a destructive agent. For example,
"temperature" in and of itself does not cause damage,
but "incorrect temperature" does.
"The columns present three different levels at which the
agents of deterioration can be controlled: Building Features,
Portable Fittings, and Procedures. Building Features and Portable
Fittings are listed separately because they usually have different
budgets and personnel, and because they are dealt with at different
times in the life of a museum. Building Features and Portable
Fittings are further subdivided by location of artifacts: on
display, in storage, or in transit. The Procedures column outlines
actions that can be taken by staff or contractors once the building
features and portable fittings are in place.
Jokilehto, Jukka. Management and Presentation of Cultural Heritage
"A heritage resource, such as a work of art, a building
or a site, may be defined on the basis of the specific concepts
according to which it was built. It can therefore be conceived
as a 'whole' where each part can be described and defined in
reference to the design concept. Considering however that a
historic resource is also a product of time; it has been exposed
to degradation by weathering and use, it may have suffered losses,
and it may have been intentionally modified. In many cases,
historic structures are not the product of one single period
but may have been modified at different times of their life,
incorporating new creative elements and even forming an entirely
'new whole'. The original construction together with later transformations
forms the historical integrity of such an historic site; its
authenticity can be identified in the genuine historical material
and elements that are bearers of testimonies of the past, and
can be associated with specific values. At the same time, also
traditional functions and appropriate use of heritage sites
are an essential part of its cultural significance.
"An important aim of the survey and critical-historical
assessment of a heritage resource is to define its character
and historical integrity, and to prepare a statement of its
significance. The aim of conservation is to guarantee the safeguard
of such a heritage resource, and to ensure its integrity for
future generations; the purpose is also to prevent that the
qualities and cultural values of the resource be prejudiced
through improper treatments or management. In particular, the
purpose should be to continue traditional types of functions
so far as these still exist, or at least to guarantee an appropriate
use allowing regular maintenance and upkeep of the property...."
"All managerial, financial and technical considerations
applied to retard deterioration that prevent damage and extend
the useful life of materials and objects in collections to ensure
their availability. These considerations include monitoring and
controlling appropriate environmental conditions; providing adequate
storage and physical protection; establishing exhibition and loan
policies and proper handling procedures; providing for conservation
treatment, emergency planning and the creation and use of surrogates."
Benchmarks in Collection Care for Museums, Archives and Libraries:
A Self-assessment Checklist (PDF format file
to download), re:Source,
for Museums, Archives and Libraries, 2002, p. 15