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The role of a conservator is varied. Their responsibilities may include working behind the scenes preserving and mounting items for display, studying and cataloguing artefacts, or in front of the house assisting visitors and working as an educator.


Conservators may do some or all of the following

  • research the history of artefacts and artworks
  • analyse and test items to determine what they are made of, their condition, and their authenticity
  • consult with curators, owners or iwi about how to approach the treatment of items
  • repair and/or preserve items using chemical treatments
  • document an item's condition and any conservation work done, including before and after photos of the item
  • advise other staff or collectors on preventative conservation, including how to store, display and transport artworks and artefacts
  • keep up to date with new developments in conservation.

Conservators need to have

  • specialist knowledge in their area of interest
  • good research and analytical skills
  • good writing and communication skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • an understanding of the different approaches to the conservation of objects and a commitment to ongoing education
  • an understanding of conservation principles and ethics
  • a understanding of the chemistry of materials and how to use chemicals safely
  • an understanding of taonga Māori.

Conservators need to be

  • patient and detail-oriented
  • methodical and organised
  • careful, with good judgement as much of their work involves handling irreplaceable items
  • creative
  • adaptable
  • passionate about their work and the art or artefacts they're responsible for.