Hiring a Private Conservator

By this point you have already viewed our website (artifactpreservation.com or artefactpreservation.com) and identified our practice as being able to assist you with your preservation needs. If you haven’t contacted us, please do! We would love to hear about how we can help you find a solution with your project. If we have already provided a statement of work and estimate, here are some responses to frequently asked questions that you may have!

What is the statement of work and estimate?

The statement of work provides an overview of the proposed project and details how the project will be conducted or how the object will be treated. More specific information may not be available because the object or collection has not been viewed yet or we may need to investigate certain features before we can propose the next step. For example, we may need to open an object under controlled conditions in our studio before we can comment on the condition and treatment or we may need to do a site visit; therefore, a general statement is included in the proposal until more specific details can be provided.

The estimate provided is a fixed fee that covers the work detailed in the proposal.

If you have any questions about what is provided in the statement of work or estimate, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are happy to discuss any component of the work and to work within your budget. On rare occasion, a speciality product is needed or the treatment is expanded outside the original scope of work. This will be provided in writing with a revised estimate of costs and will be approved by the client before those costs are incurred.

What advantage is there to using a restorer or conservator for a heritage preservation project?

Conservation is a discipline within cultural heritage that focuses on preserving the past for the future. Professional conservators undergo specialty training in the arts and sciences to better understand the material composition and artist’s intent of historic objects and artworks. A thorough understanding of the material prevents any negative interactions that could occur with a treatment. Additionally, the use of specialty archival products ensures that the treatment will have endurance and will be reversible in the event the object needs retreatment. To ensure professional practices are followed, you should look for a conservator that is a member of a professional society that has a set code of ethics. In our practice, we only work with conservators that are recognized by the American Institute for Conservation or the New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials. In conclusion, you are ensuring that the individual performing any treatment has a professional level of knowledge and that the materials used are appropriate for the object. Mistakes can be irreversible and more costly to fix in the future.

Is there a difference between restoration, conservation, and preservation?

Restoration is a process that implies that a historic object or artwork will be brought back to the original appearance or function. An example of this would be to restore an antique car to working condition by replacing all of the non-working components and repainting the original colour.

Conservation is an interventive process used to stabilize an object.  Generally only the deteriorated areas or unstable components are treated to minimize any further damage.  The term for this in the profession is “minimal intervention” where the main goal is to perform the minimum treatment necessary to ensure the object is preserved.

Preservation describes an overall approach to managing the long-term curation of an object or collection. This includes preventative measures that modify the environment around the object rather than the object itself.

The term conservator and restorer are both used in different countries to describe the same role. This is not to be confused with a conservationist that is a professional that focuses on the preservation of natural resources.

The treatment plan should outline the details of the proposed work, but our consultants are always happy to talk with you further about the extent of work your object or collection may need.

Is there a charge for the statement of work and estimate?

If you are within an hours drive of post code 4672, there is no charge to have us view your collection, object, or discuss your project. Exceptions to this include if there are any costs necessary for supplies or specialty equipment in order to complete the statement of work and estimate.  This will include a maximum of one-hour on site and a succinct statement of work. More detailed proposals can be provided for $250 per proposal.

For clients with individual objects or artworks outside of an hours drive, you are welcome to provide images or to bring the item to our studio. For projects that will require on site consultation outside of an hours drive, travel costs and a proposal fee may be invoiced.

The treatment proposal or preservation plan looks great, what happens next?

Great! We look forward to working with you! The next step is that we will send a short agreement for you to review. This outlines:

·      that the conservator will perform any services in accordance with a code of ethics,

·      that you are the legal owner or representative of the object or collection,

·      a description of the object and the current condition before receipt,

·      the treatment being proposed,

·      the documentation that is agreed to be provided,

·      the time to completion,

·      the cost and payment schedule,

·      insurance details (if any),

·      and a discussion of early terminations to the contract.

This protects both parties to ensure the work is clearly understood. If you agree to the information, all you will need to do is sign a copy, scan, and email the file back to us.

When is payment expected?

This depends on the type of project and the costs that are expected to be incurred at the outset. For example, if travel costs, accommodation and supplies will be needed ahead of time or if the project is expected to take several months, the payment schedule may request half of the estimate before the work commences.

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