Skip to Main Content

Chemistry of Art

This guide was created for Dr. Geeta Govindarajoo's Chemistry of Art class.

Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh

Image from Wikimedia Commons. 

Article about Sunflowers and Cadmium Yellow

Van Gogh's Sunflowers are Slowly Turning Brown

What is the difference between Conservation and Preservation?

Art conservation includes principles and practices of technical examination, documentation, and treatment for objects of material culture. The intention of art conservation is to improve the condition of an artifact by stabilizing physical condition problems and addressing surface disfigurement arising from deterioration and/or damage. In doing so, the art conservator strives to retain as much original material as possible and to employ the best quality materials and the most carefully considered methods available.

At times a conservation treatment also requires restoration, which is defined as the preparation and incorporation of replacement parts and surface finishes (i.e. 'compensation for losses') to allow proper visual interpretation of an art object and to recapture an acceptable esthetic appearance. Professional art conservators will always be glad to discuss their approaches and available options for the restoration component of a conservation treatment with you.

Another often-used term is preservation, which encompasses all of the varied activities involved in preventing damage and reducing the rate of deterioration for art objects, collections, and structures. Professional art conservators provide services related to preservation issues including display methods, archival quality storage solutions, environmental condition challenges, pest management, and packing for transportation.”

Art Conservation & Preservation Resources


© , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers websites to or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback form.