Introduction to Heritage Conservation


By: Kamaljit Ksh

Cultural Heritage:

Anything that relates culture and has been handed over to us by our predecessors. It can be Tangible or Intangible.

  • Tangible Heritage refers to those examples that possess a physical form i.e. objects that could be seen and touched by us. E.g. sculptures,monuments, paintings, archaeological tools and implements, etc.
  • Intangible Heritage refers to that part of culture that cannot be touched as they do not have a physical form, e.g. music, dance, etc.

Q. Why to safeguard the Cultural Property?

– Every object of art has a message for the present and future generation.

Cultural property has following values attached to it:-
1.Aesthetic value

2.Historic value

3.National value

4.Scientific or research value


What is Heritage-Conservation?

[box type=”quote” size=”small” align=”right”]Prevention is better than cure[/box]Conservation as we know it today is a complex activity. Since the nineteenth century, it has broadened in scope, strengthened in importance and, simply
speaking, come of age. It has not always been in this way; just a few decades ago before that, it did not even exist-it did not exist as we know it: as a
particular activity, requiring special, well-trained skills, which are different from those of the artist, the carpenter or the sculptor.

Terms and Definitions:


  • Heritage Conservation: It is a profession devoted to the preservation of cultural heritage for the future. Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventive care.
  • Examination: It is the foremost step in Conservation of any art objects. It may be of simple visual examination using hand lens, mechanical examination using sable-hair brushes and scientific examination using Spectrometer, XRF, etc.
  • Documentation: It is one of the most important steps in Conservation. It is the records which comprises of history, condition of the object when found, treatment to be given etc. It is an ongoing process till all the treatments will be carried out.
  • Treatment: If an object has inherent vice, preventive measures may not be enough to reduce the rate of deterioration to a tolerable level. An acceptable treatment can prolong the life of an object. When an object becomes extremely fragile from deteriorating factors, appropriate treatment is a must to increase its stability and durability.
  • Preservation: It is the act of keeping safe or free from further harm or decay of the objects displayed in the Museum or stored in the storage by following any indigenous methods (e.g. Wrapping the Manuscript with red clothes and using neem, tobacco leaves as insect repellents) or chemical methods (e.g. Using Silica gel as Humidifier).
  • Restoration: There is a misconception that Conservation and Restoration are essentially the same things. Restoration can be simply defined as the act of repairing or trying to bring back to a former position or condition of the object or artefacts adopting different conservative norms. The difference? In a nutshell, Conservation is preservation while Restoration is repair.
  • Preventive Care: As most of the Cultural works are sensitive to environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and exposure to light and UV light, they must be protected in a controlled environment where such variables are maintained within a range of damage-limiting levels. And it is always true that “Prevention is better than cure”, so the preventive cares is of extreme importance for preserving and checking any possible further harmful effects to the objects or artefacts.

[box type=”info” color=”green” ]The article was sent to by Kamaljit Ksh.  Heritage Conservation (Student) National Museum Institute, New Delhi[/box]

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