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The aims of conservation.

Caple, C. (2009) 'The aims of conservation.', in Conservation : principles, dilemmas and uncomfortable truths. Abingdon, Oxon: Butterworth-Heinemann, pp. 25-31.


All societies have objects they retain and cherish and in Europe, in the 21st century, that typicall means placing them in a museum and letting conservators and other museum staff ‘take care’ of them. But we conservators are invariably focussed on how and not why we are doing this. We spend our time talking to other conservators about ‘ethical approaches’ and obsess about the disparity between the different areas of conservation. We stand uncertain and mute as decisions are made in museums, universities and wider society that threaten the existence of the objects we care for and the institutions in which they reside. Do we have an accurate all-embracing view of conservation, a clear sense of purpose, a lucid series of aims, and can we articulate them in less than 500 pages? (e.g. Stanley Price et al 1996). If we cannot clearly and simply tell/convince society why we do what we do, what right do we have to intervene with society’s most valued and treasured objects? In the following paragraphs I outline a basic series of aims for conservation. Do I accurately describe what conservation is and are these aims sustainable for the foreseeable future?

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF (Copyright agreement prohibits open access to the full-text)
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:15 April 2016
Date of first online publication:2009
Date first made open access:No date available

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