Preventative Conservation

What is preventative conservation?

Preventative conservation, also known as preventative care, is defined by Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections as “actions taken to minimize or slow the rate of deterioration and to prevent damage to collections; [this] includes activities such as risk assessment, development and implementation of guidelines for continuing use and care, appropriate environmental conditions for storage and exhibition, and proper procedures for handling, packing, transport, and use. These responsibilities may be shared by collection managers, conservators, subject specialists, curators and other institutional administrators.”

Best Practices

For an overview of basic preventative care see the American Institute for Conservation of Art and Historic Works page.

For assessing your level of preventative conservation see the Canadian Conservation Institute’s ABC’s of Risk Management and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Preservation Self-Assessment Program.

For light, air quality, and temperature concerns see the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s guidelines. For monitoring and controlling UV light levels in your museum and galleries, see this advice from Preservation Equipment Ltd. 

The Dew Point Calculator is a free, web-based application that you can use to find the best environment for your collection based on temperature and relative humidity.