When The Field Museum collects a specimen, it takes on a responsibility to care for that specimen in perpetuity. But time takes an inevitable toll. When paint peels, fibers fray, or pottery begins to crumble, The Field Museum's conservators come to the rescue.
Each artifact is examined, documented and treated individually, based on the materials from which it is manufactured and the culture from which it came. Conservators are careful not to remove traces of an object’s use before it came to the Museum; careful research and analytical work may be necessary to determine whether features of an artifact are original, decay products, or part of an undocumented restoration. Once treated, artifacts are stored in controlled environments to minimize further decay. Even when artifacts are on display conservators are measuring and controlling light, temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric pollutants to prolong the life of an object.
Conservators work to improve their skills and also to share their experience with those outside The Field Museum, both in the US and around the world, to provide education on current best practices for caring for objects.