Specialists trained in art conservation are responsible for the preservation of museum artifacts. Called conservators, they study chemistry, fine art, and art history. Conservators identify, stabilize, and preserve a variety of materials.
Even when properly cared for, objects will show their age. Plastics discolor, paint flakes, paper embrittles, and wood splits. Not every material deteriorates at the same rate. Some artifacts may need more attention than others.
The National Museum of American History (NMAH) has three conservation laboratories: the books and paper lab, the textiles and costumes lab, and the objects lab. Each lab is staffed by an experienced senior conservator with related material expertise.
The conservation department collaborates with curators, mount makers, exhibit designers, and collection managers.
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