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a break or split in material without a complete separation of parts. Generally, the term is used to describe breaks in solid material such as stone, ceramic and wood. (AICC n.d.)

Crack in glass
Crack in wood
Crack in a ram's horn

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

split; break; crizzling

Synonyms in English[edit | edit source]

fissure; fracture

Translation[edit | edit source]

English crack
French fissure
Spanish grieta
Portuguese fenda
Italian crepa
German Riss
Russian трещина
Arabic صدع
Chinese (Traditional) 裂痕
Ukrainian тріщина

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Cracking occurs when there is a failure in material secondary to chemical change, mechanical, or environmental stress. Cracks are found in objects, image surfaces, and supports and can affect one or more layers of material.

A crack can be in a straight line or branch outward with no loss to the object. (NPS 1996) However, a crack creates an inherent weakness in an object, leaving it vulnerable to further damage.

Wood, an organic material, is porous and composed of cellulose. Cellulose is an insoluble molecule that attracts water. Frequent fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity cause wood to warp and crack. (Long 2000)

Glass and ceramic are composed of materials that are hard and unyielding, leaving them vulnerable to physical damage such as cracks and breakage. (Little 2000)

In ceramics, cracks can be difficult to see, while undermining the objects' stability.

When the material used to compose glass becomes unstable, a fine network of cracks known as 'crizzling' can be seen on its surface. (Little 2000)

Cracks in stone may be caused by weathering, inherent flaws, rusting pins or dowels, repair mortar that is too hard for the stone, vibrations from earthquakes, fire and frost (Vergès-Belmin 2008).

References[edit | edit source]

AIC. BP Chapter 5-Written Documentation. "Glossary of Terms." Accessed 16 March 2014. Retrieved from

AICC. "Crack." Accessed 8 March 2014. Retrieved from

Getty Research Institute. Art and Architecture Thesaurus online. "Crack." Last modified 2004. Retrieved from

Lamb, Fred, M. "Splits and Cracks in Wood." Accessed 12 March 2014. Retrieved from

Little, Margaret, A. The Winterthur Guide to CARING FOR YOUR COLLECTION. Winterthur: Winterthur Publications, 2000.

Long, Richard, W. Caring for Your Family Treasures. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000.

National Park Service. Museum Handbook, Part I, "Collections." Last Modified 2006. Retrieved from

Vergès-Belmin, V., ed. 2008. Illustrated glossary on stone deterioration patterns. English-French ed., Monuments & Sites no. 15. Paris: ICOMOS and (ISCS) International Scientific Committee for Stone.

The Conservation Center. "Glossary of Art Conservation Terms." Last modified 2014. Retrieved from

The Fine Arts Conservatory. "Glossary." Last modified 2006. from

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