The conservation department preserves the museum collections for future generations to enjoy and study. Conservators work with others to ensure the proper physical care for artwork through ethical treatments and documentation, and advise on desirable environmental conditions including lighting, temperature, relative humidity, presentation, loans and general care. We also undertake scientific and other research activities to support preservation, scholarship and enjoyment of the collections.

For questions about researching or conserving a work of art you own, see Art FAQ.

Conservation Research

In 2009 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recognized the important role of scientific research on the collections at the Nelson-Atkins and established an endowment to support this.

The structure of the research program fosters collaborative “looking” among the project team – scientist, conservator and curator – and leads to new findings that might have been overlooked otherwise.  Projects address questions of authenticity, provenance, condition or exhibition display.

The multidisciplinary approach results in exciting discoveries that provide a deeper understanding of the collection for museum visitors and scholars.


Need to find a local Conservator? Interested in becoming a conservator? Contact The American Institute of Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

Additional Resources

Shelly, Marjorie. “The Care and Handling of Art Objects.” New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.

The National Committee to Save America’s Cultural Collections.“Caring For Your Collections.” New York: Abrams, 1992

MacLeish, A. Bruce. “The Care of Antiques and Historical Collections.”of Per E. Guldbeck’s “The care of Historical Collections”, Nashville, Tennessee: AASLH Press, 1985.

Sandwith, Hermione and Stainton, Sheila. “The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping.” London: Viking, 1991.

Thompson, Gary. “The Museum Environment.” Conservation in the Arts, Archaeology and Architecture. London: Butterworths, 1978.