ASPECTS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH IN CONSERVATION: THE DETERIORATION PROCESS
ROBERT L. FELLER
Conservators often complain that many papers presented by scientists do not appear to have much relevance to their work. This is undoubtedly the case. The truth of the matter is that our science-based understanding of how to treat and how best to take care of the diverse materials found in museums, archives, and historic sites is still in a very incomplete state. There is a great need to build up the extensive background of facts and understanding required before sound new practices of care and treatment can be established. Considering that the conservation of historic and artistic works encompasses three explicit functions—examination, preservation, and restoration—it is fair to say the contributions of science thus far have been greatest in the area of examination, brought about through the application of an ever-growing list of advanced techniques of analysis. In contrast, our knowledge and understanding of how complex systems of materials deteriorate and, based on this foundation, how they may be treated most effectively contain a multitude of unanswered questions.