The conservation and overall preservation of the museum collection is at the core of our work at the Archaeological Museum.  We define conservation as a process that preserves artifacts so that they can be displayed, examined, researched and made accessible.  Conservation often involves numerous processes including the following:

•The careful written and photographic document an object at its present state
•Measures to minimize the change or deterioration of the object
•Research into the original manufacturing techniques of the object, and the deterioration processes it may have undergone
•Interdisciplinary research which allows the objects to be better understood within an archaeological, art historical, historical, and technological context

Recent Conservation Work

The conservation of a Roman glass vessel, with images taken during and after conservation treatment.

Even before the museum re-opened in December 2010, a team of four conservators examined, documented and photographed every object that was to go on view.  Then each object was appropriately conserved.  This sometimes involved cleaning the artifacts, removing and replacing unstable old repairs, or sometimes re-adhering fragments together to reconstruct the object from disparate parts.  Over a period of months, nearly 700 objects were conserved, with some dramatic results.  Here are a few examples of our most dramatic before and after conservation images.  Please visit the Objects Stories page for more in-depth information on some of these treatments.

Two images showing the during and after conservation treatment stages of JHUAM 42.67. The “Knucklebone Player”, dated to the 19th century, was reconstructed from over 50 fragments.

The epitaph of Q. Caedius Festus, JHUAM 14, dated to the 1st century CE, before and after cleaning and stabilization.


Museum-Quality Mounts

Another key component of the preservation of any collection is its safe and stable display. As part of the installation of the museum, four mount-makers were involved in making custom-fitted brass and steel mounts for each and every object on view.  The purpose of a museum-quality mount is two-fold; to show an artifact to its greatest advantage, drawing the viewer’s eye to its most interesting or beautiful characteristics, but also to ensure that objects are safely supported.

Our display of ancient glass objects, secured to the wall with brass mounts.

Mountmaker Paul Daniel custom fits a brass mount to an ancient glass vessel.