The Conservation Department is responsible for meeting the conservation and restoration needs of the cultural assets in the MAN collections. These items range from prehistory to the late 19th century and vary widely in their typology. They are also made of many different materials: stone, metal, ceramic, porcelain, bone, natural specimens, glass, polychromed wood, paint on various surfaces, fabrics, etc.
Preventive conservation, restoration and research are among the duties of this department.
It is vital to have a preventive conservation plan for identifying risks and agents of deterioration and, consequently, to create the infrastructure and resources required to regularly carry out preventive conservation tasks and implement coordinated, effective strategies for safeguarding the collections.
The restoration laboratory sets priorities based on objective factors and intervention criteria, making decisions in consultation with the curators of the collection departments whenever necessary. Restoration treatments are applied in accordance with the internationally accepted principles of minimal intervention and ensuring the physical, chemical and mechanical stability of each piece. Restorers may, if they deem it necessary, carry out more substantial treatments that involve varying degrees of cleaning or material and colour reintegrations, but always with the utmost respect for the original and maintaining old restorations, unless they are harmful to the piece, something not uncommon in a museum with over one hundred and fifty years of history.
Restoration work is done by the museum’s team of professional restorers and, occasionally, restorers on temporary contracts and student interns from different schools.
This department also handles materials analyses, which are performed using the museum’s own equipment or sent out to other laboratories.