Preventive conservation and its use in historical monuments
Preventive conservation is a set of measures applying to all staff members and visitors of a historical monument, from the castle manager to the cleaner.
The Research Depository provides methodological assistance in preventive conservation
The Plasy Research Depository mainly tries to set a good example in preventive conservation, and to provide a high-quality depository for the storage of furnishing items not used in the interior installations of castles, châteaus, and monasteries. It also provides methodological assistance in preventive conservation to other historical monuments. The assistance usually takes the form of seminars, workshops, tours on appointment, and tutorials on site (such as during inventory-taking or preparations of new interior installations).
Our activities focus on education and practical assistance for the staff of historical monuments, museums, and galleries (managed by the National Heritage Institute, the government, regional and municipal administrations, churches, or private owners) who work with historical objects. This includes the cleaners, tour guides, collection caretakers, maintenance workers etc.
OUR EXPERTISE What can we teach you?
- how to prepare your items for the season;
- how to prepare the exhibition for the winter;
- how to handle items;
- how to pack items for transport;
- how to keep items clean;
- how to provide "first aid" to items;
- how to display items, keeping them safe while satisfying the visitors;
- the easiest ways to ensure stable environment;
- how to record changes;
- and a number of other easy tips and tricks for delaying the degradation of items and their costly restoration.
The Research Depository of Furnishings also strives to follow new trends and approaches in the preventive conservation of furnishings and to draw from original, historical approaches. We collect mainly scientific publications and methodologies on the preventive conservation of furnishings, management of collections and furnishings etc. These publications can be borrowed.
Furnishings usually mean the original equipment of castles, châteaus, and other historical monuments. Their protection is governed by Act No. 20/1987 Sb. on State monument care, whereas the protection of collections is governed by Act No. 122/2000 Sb. on the protection of collections of museum nature. The difference mainly consists of the methods of record-keeping and display.
Furnishings are usually displayed in situ, in the context of a historical building, whereas museum collections often present a specific topic, period or a region.
Museologists and preservationists aim to conserve artefacts in their original form, with as little restoration as possible. Preventive conservation is a set of measures meant to delay the degradation and prevent the risk of degradation in furnishing items.
To put it simply, preventive conservation means regularly cleaning the items, which keeps them in good condition longer, and delays their costly and complicated restoration.
The field is also known as 'conservation housekeeping'.
Preventive conservation is by no means simple. It lays down the methods for packing items for transport; handling them; storing them in shelves; creating an optimal environment for them; removing dust and dirt from them; as well as for protecting them from the hands of curious visitors in an installation.
Preservation of the item’s material by the intervening in order to stabilize its physical condition. Conservation is performed by a conservator-restorer, licensed by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
In practice, this means consolidation and eradication of fungi by chemical agents (chemical and physical methods).
Direct intervention into the item’s material, such as the replacement of degraded material in a way that preserves the functional whole of the artefact. This also often means restoring the former aesthetic and technical function of the object.
Restoration may include not only the replacement and completion of missing or heavily damaged elements, but also the removal of elements which obstruct the comprehensibility or functionality of the object. It is performed by a conservator-restorer, licensed by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
In practice, this means restoring the surface of the object and creating replicas of parts of the object.
It is important to control the following factors in both storage and display areas: air humidity; air temperature; light or the intensity of sunshine; concentration of air pollutants; and biological hazards such as insects, rodents and fungi.
Every type of furnishings item needs different environmental conditions. The storage conditions for textiles and metal, or photos and porcelain differ dramatically.
Kynžvart château chose to build a controlled environment and installed a climate control system. This was not an option for the Plasy monastery, mainly due to preservation concerns. The former monastic cells, which later served as offices, have never been heated and cooled this way, so a method that would be gentler to the building was needed.
To keep a stable environment, a system of temperature adjustment (5°C at most in winter) and dehumidification by high-performance dehumidifiers was designed. Keeping a stable environment with minimum fluctuations is what matters most.
Temperature and humidity in every individual room are monitored, centrally controlled and regularly displayed in a graph and a chart.
The Plasy monastery has been running another important monitoring project, Airflow, which describes and assesses the behaviour of air in the cloister and the staircases. In the future, this system should be made compatible with the measuring and regulation systems of the repositories.