INVESTIGATION AND DOCUMENTATION

in·ves·ti·ga·tion /in,vesti'gāSHən/

Noun:

Conservators investigate artifacts to study how they deteriorate, to learn about materials and methods of manufacture, and to design appropriate conservation treatment and preventive conservation strategies.

Conservators use a variety of investigative techniques, including:

Examining and object
A conservator examines an object visually.

X-ray of mummy boy
An x-radiograph of a mummy.

doc·u·men·ta·tion /,däkyəmen'tāSHən/

Noun:  Material that provides official information or evidence or that serves as a record.

Photographing an object
A conservator documents an object with photography.

Documentation is an important step in the conservation process. It creates a record of an artifact’s condition at a particular moment in time. Conservation records can be used to monitor condition changes and to evaluate the long-term success or failure of conservation treatments and preventive conservation strategies.

Logging information about amphoras
A conservator writes a conservation report for an object.

Written conservation records usually include a description of the object, its function, the materials from which it is made, and its method of manufacture. The condition of the artifact is carefully described, and the conservation treatment plan or preventive strategy is laid out. Any actions taken by the conservator, and the conservation materials used in the treatment, must also be noted. Products of additional investigation, like CT scans or spectra from instrumental analysis, also become part of an artifact’s conservation record.

Click here to read the condition report for the mummy pictured below.

Placing the mummy in a case
A conservator and curator work to install a mummy in the first floor gallery of the Kelsey Museum.