The role of the Conservation Department is to protect and preserve all of the museum’s collections for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Although you may never see a conservation staff member in the museum's galleries, MFAH visitors are surrounded by the results of the department's efforts.
What do conservators do?
On any given day, the conservators, conservation technicians, and the conservation scientist tend to a variety of responsibilities, such as checking light levels in the galleries to ensure that they are low enough to keep delicate watercolors from fading; removing old, discolored varnish from centuries-old paintings to restore vibrancy to the paint colors underneath; cleaning dirt and grime from the art in the sculpture garden in order to preserve their delicate patina; analyzing materials of newly acquired objects to see whether they are consistent with the stated period of the work of art; and advising on packing of MFAH artworks for safe travel to museums around the world.
Areas of Specialization
Conservation staff members are highly educated in fields such as art history, chemistry, and studio art, and the conservators have additional years of training in their areas of expertise: paintings, works on paper, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, and conservation science. Such a broad range of specialties means that the conservation team is knowledgeable and ready to work on objects throughout the museum’s encyclopedic collections. Visit the Selected Case Studies page to discover more about this important work.
To see conservators at work in each area, take a look through the slideshow, at left.