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Conservation at Historic New England

Conservation TreatmentConservators care for all the objects in the collections at Historic New England, as well as many of the interior fittings and finishes in our historic buildings. When objects have deteriorated, conservators carry out treatments to repair the damage. Together with the property care team, the conservation team also preserves the collections by maintaining the environment in our historic buildings and collections storage. When certain types of objects need specialized care, such as paintings, textiles, or works on paper, Historic New England sometimes uses other professionals from the conservation community with specialties in these areas.

When they are not caring for Historic New England’s collections, our conservators regularly speak about their work at special programs available to Historic New England members, as well as public lectures and professional conferences. Each year, the conservation team hosts a post-graduate Mellon fellow, who receives advanced training in conservation. These are some of the ways that the conservation team fulfills Historic New England’s mission to be a national model for the care and preservation of historic buildings, landscapes, and collections.

Conservation Philosophy

Our first priority in conservation at Historic New England is to prevent our collections from deteriorating further. To do this, we do our best to improve the environment in our house museums, by reducing levels of Ultra-Violet light, and controlling the temperature and humidity. When objects in our collections have suffered damage or deterioration, we work to save original material, and use reversible techniques in our treatments, ensuring that they can be undone at a later date. When objects have suffered losses to original material, we consult with curators to determine the appropriate level of restoration for each object.

Preping for Kitchen Exhibition
Collection objects awaiting conservation treatment and crating for America's Kitchen exhibition

Recent Conservation Projects

Protecting Your Furniture with Paste Wax

Marchant's Patent Portrait of Josiah Quincy

Lyman Estate Chandelier

Conservation at Castle Tucker

Carbon Dioxide Pest Treatment for Objects

Find a Conservator

Conservators at Historic New England are members of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). We subscribe to AIC’s code of ethics and guidelines for practice in our treatment of objects from the collections. If you are looking for a conservator, we suggest that you find a conservator who also follows AIC’s  guidelines. Below is a link to AIC’s website, which can help you find a conservator in your area.

Finding a Conservator