Article VII of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Code of Ethics states “The conservation professional shall document examination, scientific investigation, and treatment by creating permanent records and reports.” This is an essential part of a conservator’s job and is expanded upon in the AIC Guidelines for Practice.
Documenting collections, whether individual specimens or collections as a whole is an important element in preservation. The information obtained provides a snap shot of the condition which can be used to track changes in preservation over time, the success of interventive treatments, the conditions in storage or on exhibit, and the risks to which the collections are susceptible. This information is essential in making informed judgments on how to treat individual items or how to allocate preservation resources across a collection, department or institution.
The type of documentation (e.g. written, pictorial, photographic, etc.) and the level of detail will vary according to the need of the project and the resources available. This section of the site will explore three types of documentation:
It is important to remember that the resources and effort put into creating any type of documentation makes them valuable to the institution and, in a larger sense, become part of the history of our collective cultural property. As such, it is important that resources are also expended to ensure that these documents (whether paper-based or digital) are maintained in as permanent a manner as possible.