What is Conservation?

Conservation is the care and protection of cultural objects. As the caretakers of collections, conservators examine, research, clean and repair artworks, while also taking action to prevent future deterioration. Here at the AGO, the Conservation Team works closely together with curators, the mount maker, the mat maker, framers, and the installation team. All these specialists collaborate to ensure each work will look its best not only for today, but also for generations to come.

What Happens in the Michael and Sonja Koerner Centre for Conservation?

Just beyond the galleries are the labs and workspaces of the Conservation Team. Here they examine artwork and conduct research to learn how artworks were made and the extent of any damages or changes. Conservators use microscopes and imaging technology to improve our understanding of artist techniques and materials. They decide if treatment, or “active conservation”, is needed, and what should be done. If a damaged artwork is treated, conservators ensure as much as possible that their work is reversible just in case changes are needed in the future.

The role of conservators at the AGO also goes beyond the research and treatment of art. Conservators work closely with other staff members to ensure artworks are stored, handled, transported and displayed safely. In addition to the research that is done within the Centre, the AGO’s conservators actively engage with external specialists like conservation scientists and with living artists to achieve a better understanding of how a work of art was originally made, and how it might change over time.

conservator retouching painting

Meet the Conservators

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