Conservation aims to preserve the original material of a work of art without altering it. This is done through measures of protection and preservation.

Restoration intends to return the object to the assumed original state and function through respectively appropriate means.

Basic Principles of Conservation and Restoration

Preservation of the original material

  • Longevity of treatments
  • Reversibility of treatments
  • Consideration of the age-appropriate appearance


The conservator/restorator is responsible for the preservation, care and research of cultural objects in the interest of the public and future generations. This occupation demands highly skilled competencies and experience as well as the utmost care in the handling of works of art. The educational training is possible in Switzerland at the Berne University of the Arts (Hochschule der Künste in Bern).

Among some of the many job tasks are:

Preventive conservation

  • Conservation treatments
  • Technological research of works of art
  • Condition examination and documentation
  • Advising and support during special exhibitions
  • Assessment of loan-requests and courier trips
  • Supervision of interns
  • Contribution to the educational function of the museum
  • Regular continuing education

Conservation / Restoration

Preventive conservation includes:

  • Monitoring of environmental und lighting conditions
  • Conservation standards in the storage facilities
  • Conservation standards for the mounting and framing of objects

Conservation treatments require:

  • Research of materials and technique
  • Interdisciplinary exchange with curators and other professionals
  • Contact with living artists
  • Hands-on restoration treatments
  • Written and pictorial documentation

Loan Traffic

For special exhibitions, the Kunstmuseum Basel borrows works of art from other museums and private ownership. Likewise, national and international institutions request loans from the collection.


Both in-coming and out-going loans are supervised by the conservators. The condition must be documented in written and pictorial form and travel requirements defined and controlled. Especially fragile works of art must be accompanied until they are installed in the borrowing institution. During these courier trips, requirements for installation and environmental conditions can be monitored. 


SKR: Schweizerischer Verband für Konservierung und Restaurierung:

VDR: Verband der Restauratoren:

SIK: Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft:

Hochschule der Künste Bern, Konservierung / Restaurierung:

ICOM: International Council of Museums:

EMPA: Eidgenössische Materialprüfungsanstalt:

E.C.C.O.: European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers’ Organization:

ENCORE: European Network for Conservation-Restoration Education:

IADA: Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Archiv-, Bibliotheks-, und Grafikrestauratoren: