STANDARD 8: Exhibit Conservation Requirements

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STANDARD 8: Exhibit Conservation Requirements
A conservator must establish the Conservation Requirements for each exhibit object to provide the basis for deciding what conservation strategies and hazard mitigation features to include in the exhibit.
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Conservation research and decades of observation by curators, conservators and other museum professionals have identified the various factors—physical, chemical and biological—likely to damage museum objects and accelerate their decay (referred to in the Standards as the ten agents of deterioration). They have also identified a wealth of methods for slowing or preventing that deterioration.

This research is used to set the Conservation Requirements: the set of criteria that specify what conditions—such as the appropriate level of light and the range of temperature—are necessary to protect an object from damage or deterioration while on exhibit.

The exhibit conservator should establish the conservation requirements for each object going on exhibit. By establishing specific conservation targets for hazard mitigation during exhibit design, fabrication, mountmaking, and maintenance, these requirements will provide practical guidelines for incorporating conservation into the exhibit.

To be effective, conservation requirements should be established by a qualified conservator with specialized knowledge in exhibit conservation. And they should be established as early as possible to ensure they are available to guide exhibit design and damage mitigation.

The requirements should also be feasible and practical. Rather than calling for the most stringent possible safeguards, they should recommend preservation levels that will afford objects adequate protection given the particular exhibit proposal and exhibit environment. A conservator can tailor the requirements to the context of the specific exhibit by taking the following factors into consideration:

• The exhibit plan
• The vulnerability and condition of each object
• The significance of each object
• The environment in which the object will be displayed

To ensure that they are implemented effectively, the preservation criteria should be clearly communicated to the exhibit coordinator, the designer, the mountmaker, and all other relevant team members. Generally the requirements are communicated in a single document. Throughout the Standards, this document is referred to as the Conservation Requirements.

Standard 8 - Exhibition Planning & Design.png

click on the individual Guidelines below to read more information

Why should the Conservation Requirements be set by a qualified professional?
Why are the Conservation Requirements essential to creating an object-friendly exhibit?
How to identify a qualified exhibit conservator
Sample Form: Exhibit Preservation Requirements Form

Why should Conservation Requirements be established for each object?
Why should Conservation Requirements be established for each new exhibit?

What are appropriate conservation goals for the Conservation Requirements?
What data do the assessments and the exhibit plan provide that can help set practical Conservation Requirements?
How to combine assessment data to create Conservation Requirements
When might the Conservation Requirements require revisions?

Why is it essential to set the Conservation Requirements as early as possible in the exhibit process?

How should the Conservation Requirements be documented?
Sample Forms: Conservation Requirement Forms