Definition of textile conservation and preservation

Conservation refers to objects which have lost parts of their meaning and/or function because of changes or damages. According to the definition of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), it encompasses all actions which support the perception, the appreciation and the understanding of the object. Following the contemporary understanding of conservation, its aim is the comprehensive legibility of the object and its history.

That is why conservation does without any interpretive measures. This goes for materials as well as for art-historical and aesthetic aspects. It is the aim of conservation to scale back discontinuities in the original so that they do not distract from the overall impression of the object. However, all steps taken as part of the conservation have to be clearly visible in order to eliminate future misinterpretations.

The first step is conservation. This involves all measures taken for stabilising an object and is meant to slow down the emergence of future damages. Depending on the extent of the possible damages, sometimes only a reconstruction can secure the legibility of an object. Reconstruction refers to the partial, in rare cases the complete, recreation or new manufacture of an object. As part of the preservation, a prior conservation is always included.