What is Art Conservation Maintenance?

March 6, 2020


Art conservation maintenance includes all those processes which help to keep artwork looking its best at all times. Over the course of time, artwork can take on a worn finish, paint can start flaking, surfaces can become chipped, and a whole catalog of other issues can develop. When regular maintenance work is conducted on artwork, it can be much easier to maintain the original finish, and it can reduce the likelihood of any severe damage occurring in the future.


Whether artwork is in a private collection or being publicly displayed to the masses, it's very important for the continuation of the cultural element in society. Public artwork is also a tremendous draw for tourists, and it can very often be a reflection of the community within which it is located. When you consider that any given piece of art was probably created with the intention that it lasts for generations, there's a certain responsibility to maintain each piece in good shape, so that generations of the future can enjoy it just like modern day fans and supporters.


Why is Art Conservation Maintenance Important?

Art restoration programs are extremely important for a number of reasons, but in the broadest sense, it's a very necessary function because the value of art to the world at large is inestimable, and art is a representation of our cultural advancement and all the values we hold dear. In more practical terms, conservation maintenance is necessary because without it, artwork will deteriorate much more quickly, and we might completely lose some classic creations produced by the great artists of the world.


In some countries where humidity is always present, it can quickly wear out paintings and it can create the perfect environment to promote the growth of woodworms. These creatures will eat the stretcher bars and then gradually move onto the main canvas and quickly damage an entire painting. With paintings that are not layered with varnish, it would be very possible to damage the original layer of paint, so steps must be taken to preserve that original paintwork.


Stress cracks can cause paintings to flake, and only conservation maintenance can alleviate issues like this, so they don't destroy an entire piece of artwork. When conservation maintenance is undertaken to help preserve artwork, all of society benefits because a piece of our culture is retained, and some of the great artistic achievements of the past can be saved for future generations to appreciate.


Does Art Conservation Maintenance Save Money?

When art conservation maintenance is practiced regularly, without significant time gaps in between, it can save a tremendous amount of money for any organization or for an individual. Whereas minor touch-up work and smaller conservation efforts are relatively inexpensive, major restorations can take months, and may require the services of extremely skilled individuals. When it is necessary to hire that level of expertise, it can be very expensive, and it could literally end up costing a fortune.


That's why it's far better to carry out regular maintenance to manage minor flaws and to identify when issues need to be addressed. If maintenance is put off for long periods of time, it very often results in major deterioration occurring, and that will almost always require a significant investment to restore the quality of any piece of art to its original condition.


How Often Should I Schedule Art Conservation Maintenance?

In order to avoid situations where major degradation occurs on any piece of artwork, it is necessary to periodically inspect your artwork and perhaps perform an art condition assessment. These assessments or inspections should be conducted at intervals between one and five years, so that not too much time goes by in between evaluations.


When you allow more time than this to go by between inspections, you might get a nasty surprise and find out that some serious deterioration has taken place. If that does happen, you can count on paying tons of money for restoration efforts, to try to bring back the original condition of the piece of art. By regularly scheduling maintenance on all your artwork, you'll establish a routine which prevents the possibility of major damage occurring in between maintenance efforts.


How Long Does Art Conservation Maintenance Take?

It's very hard to say precisely how long it will take to conduct art conservation maintenance on any collection of artwork you might have, or be responsible for. First of all, it will depend on how many pieces you have in your collection, as well as how many of them need attention. Another significant component of calculating how much time will be necessary, will be an evaluation of how many older pieces you have in your collection.


It is well-known that artwork pieces more than 50 years old require a great deal more maintenance and attention than do those pieces which might be five years old. In fact, it's a general rule of thumb that as an artwork collection ages over time, the maintenance demands will grow right along with it. It can be a tremendous amount of work maintaining records on everything which is done in the way of maintenance to a specific piece of artwork, but it is a very important function, because it provides you with a record of what kind of repairs or touch-up work might have been done to any piece of work.


If any major restoration is necessary to pieces of work in your collection, it might take weeks or months to carry out all aspects of that restoration. So the short answer for how long art conservation maintenance will require must remain a fairly nebulous one, although it is directly tied to the number of pieces you have, their current condition, and how old they are.


Undertaking Maintenance Efforts

While conservation maintenance might be tedious work, and it might cost a good deal of money to periodically perform it on all the pieces in your collection, it is well worth the effort and the expense. If you were to ignore conservation maintenance, you would undoubtedly have much more serious restoration efforts required in the future. To be sure that conservation maintenance is carried out in the most expert and effective manner possible, you should contact B.R. Howard art conservators, and allow the experts to help maintain all the terrific pieces of artwork in your collection.


JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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