On Practice in Conservation-Restoration Education
by the ENCoRE GA 28. March 2014) (also available as pdf)
The profession of the conservator-restorer
was defined for the first time at an international level in 1984 by ICOM-CC in The
conservator-restorer: a definition of the profession. During the nearly 3 decades
since then the profession issued a number of European documents and position
papers. In the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines the description of the
profession of the conservator-restorer was refined and extended; a Code of
Ethics as well as the prerequisites and necessities of education were also
defined. The Document of Pavia (1997), when defining the discipline,
relates to education as well as to competencies, among other issues.
ENCoRE was established
on the 9 November 1997 with the aim of promoting education and research in the
field of conservation-restoration of cultural heritage, and to
maintain and promote the academic level of the education of the
conservator-restorer, according to the Professional Guidelines of E.C.C.O.
and encouraged by the Document of Pavia. On the
23rd of May 1998 the founding members agreed on the Statutes of the network and
confirmed the legal standing of ENCoREas a new European network.
As the closing event of
the so-called FULCO project (A Framework of Competence for
Conservator-restorers in Europe) a European conference was held in 1998. The
outcomes of the meeting were laid down in the Document of Vienna,
representing at that time the consensus in the European
conservation-restoration community on verifiable professional standards for
conservator-restorers and a number of related issues. The participants of the
meeting made several principal and urgent recommendations, based on the Document of Pavia, among which were the harmonisation of
conservation-restoration education at university level or recognised
equivalent, and hence the need for clarification of "university
level and recognised equivalent". It was decided that these issues should
be coordinated by ENCoRE, in association with the CON.BE.FOR project.
At its third
General Assembly in 2001 ENCoRE delivered its contribution to this
clarification in the form of the document Clarification of Conservation/Restoration
Education at University Level or Recognised Equivalent. The clarification document
takes into consideration the Bologna Declaration on the European Higher
The document states that the quality, democratic control of, and public insight
into, conservation-restoration education can only be guaranteed by
governmentally-validated academic education at university level, leading to
protected and internationally recognised academic titles. It also states that
educational institutions which are not called universities, but which offer
programmes of study which in length, content and quality are regarded by the
governmental validating bodies to be equivalent to university degree provision,
should be recognised as being at that same level.
that as an academic discipline conservation-restoration is per definition based
on the highest level of research, and that the basis of education consists of
an appropriate balance between integrated theoretical and practical teaching. Moreover,
the document defines as an aim that the conservator-restorer licensed for
independent practice is per definition a graduate at Master’s level from a
university or governmentally recognised equivalent, or doctoral research level
(PhD), and that the overall length of study for entry into the profession or to
continue to doctorate level should be five years.
In 2006 the European Qualification
Framework (EQF) was introduced by the European Commission, generically
classifying levels of qualification on the basis of knowledge, skills and
According to the ENCoRE Clarification
Document, the E.C.C.O.-ENCoRE Joint Paper and the
2004 update of the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines III, the
entry level for independent practice as a (fully professional)
conservator-restorer is defined as being at Master level. Corresponding to
annex 2 of the EQF recommendation, level 7 relates to the Master degree,
whereas level 6 relates to the Bachelor degree and level 8 to the PhD. According to the EQF the
required level for independent practice as a conservator-restorer is therefore
The conservation-restoration profession was
one of the first groups of professionals to respond to the EQF system and to
work on a scheme for application within education as well as within the
profession itself. The work E.C.C.O. dedicated to the development of
definitions resulted in the publication of the description of the Competences
for Access to the Conservation-Restoration Profession (2011), which is based on a concept
map, a graphic scheme showing in a qualitative manner the fields of activity of
the conservator-restorer in the conservation process. It was thus possible to
show the complex interrelation of knowledge and skills inherent to independent
The detailed definitions in this paper also
include an evaluation model for the description of the scales of knowledge and
The present situation, with recognised academic conservation-restoration education programmes existing in most European countries accredited at level 7 according to EQF, requires the profession to develop descriptions and definitions of those parts of the conservation-restoration educational programmes which devoted to practice, with the purpose of improving learning outcomes descriptions, the quality of teaching, and didactic methods, to ensure the highest quality and evaluation, as well as comparison between programmes and facilitation of mobility of students and teaching staff. This is especially challenging as large parts of the teaching, training and performance of practice are based on tacit knowledge which needs to be transformed into meaningful written and spoken language and terms. Moreover, experience shows that in addition to the quality of content, high quality practice education and training also depends on the length of learning time and the teacher/student ratio. The present aim of ENCoRE is that all these necessary requirements can be specified on the basis of a clear and universally agreed definition of practice in conservation-restoration education.
In the professional context the term
“practice” stands for the exercise of the profession of the
conservator-restorer (a conservation practitioner is not necessarily a full
In conservation-restoration education the
term “practice” is related to activities of a (very rarely exclusively)
in Conservation-Restoration Education
In the education field the term “practice”
remains unclear when comparing existing university curricula with the requirements
of the profession. A definition of the term “practice” and its implications within
the educational context of the profession of the conservator-restorer is
therefore vital, in order to endow graduates of different universities or educational
institutions with the necessary knowledge, skills and competences, according to
the E.C.C.O. 2011 description.
A clear distinction of the different types
of practice makes it possible to outline the characteristics, as well as to a
certain degree the quantity, of practice in education institutions.
Learning Outcomes / Aim:
In preparation for independent professional
practice, the learning outcomes of c-r education programmes must include all
the necessary knowledge, skills and competences to allow the graduates to act, based
on the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines (I) Definition of the Profession,
in terms of the following activities listed there:
- assessment of condition
drawing up of conservation plans and treatment proposals
treatments and documentation of observations and any interventions
- develop programmes, projects and surveys in the
field of conservation-restoration
- provide advice and technical assistance for the
preservation of cultural heritage
- prepare technical reports on cultural heritage
- conduct research
- disseminate information gained from examination,
treatment or research
- promote a deeper understanding of the field of
- development in relation to research
- monitoring: the evaluation of the effectiveness
of treatments (quality control)
All listed activities and decision making
must be in accordance with the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines (II) code of
ethics, and taking into account all the values (cultural, historical etc.)
of the object,
Differentiation of Practice in Education
Practice is the comprehensive activity of providing
physical care for cultural heritage, being associated with its interpretation, and
representing the core competence of the conservator-restorer. It is based on
the understanding of the appearance, meaning, values, material composition, and
condition of the cultural heritage object as interdependent parameters and
their relevance to the decision-making process.
If practice unites all these above
mentioned aspects then this definition makes evident that practice represents
the central piece, the heart of any conservation-restoration education; it is
in the dialogue with the object that all acquired knowledge and skills come
As conservation-restoration practice
involves the application of direct or indirect physical action with respect to
objects of cultural heritage, it is necessary to deliver, as an essential part
of the educational process, practical experiences in relation to original
objects as well as practical studies of the properties and interactions of
their constituting materials.
In order to prepare future
conservator-restorers for their profession, with a profile and code of ethics
according to the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines, the teaching of all aspects
and activities of practice as shown in the EQF description by E.C.C.O. is
necessary. The final aim of conservation-restoration education is to impart all
the knowledge, skills and competences needed for access to the
conservation-restoration profession, so that the graduate can undertake all the
responsibilities linked to the preservation of the cultural heritage as described
in the E.C.C.O. Professional Guidelines.
The EQF description by E.C.C.O., derived from
the sequence of the conservation process, gives clear indications for
differentiating between practice types. In conservation-restoration education,
activities of practice constituting a conservation-restoration process or a
part of it should therefore include all of the following:
1) Studies in materials, techniques and
– to understand the materials
constituting cultural heritage objects
and the technology for producing them, to experience and learn about material
behaviour and develop various dexterity skills related to the creation of the
objects (e.g. creation of reconstruction/copies/replicas).
2) Diagnostic examination
of the object and object collections
The act of identifying and documenting a condition of an object by investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a conditionand a statement or conclusion from such an analysis
Diagnostic examination of the cultural
heritage object by visual inspection at the macro and microscopic level and other
examination methods, which do not alter the object.
B) Invasive examination
A variety of investigative methods to be
used only when necessary and subsequent to non-invasive examination. Any
sampling or resulting alteration of material(s) should be as minimal as
A) Condition assessment covers the basic cognitive process of
classification of an object or collections of objects into classes or
categories with respect to condition and context. An appraisal based on careful
analytical evaluation (diagnosis).
B) Risk assessment is the determination of quantitative
value of risk related to a concrete situation and a recognized threat.
4) Planning and decision making concerning
non-interventive and interventive C-R measures
5) Application of case-related
non-interventive C-R measures
Practice directly related to object/item(s)
but without direct intervention
term conservation strategies
6) Application of case-related Interventive
Remedial conservation and
restoration treatments including
Interventive practice directly related
to object/item(s) or their constituting materials (“hands on practice”)
of materials and methods
Creation of any form of documentation
relating to the composition, condition, alteration, previous interventions and current
treatment of the cultural heritage object.
8) Experience of professional practice
Training under realistic working
conditions, including “hands on” practice but also other types of practice,
routine procedures, and also organisational matters, contact and communication
with stakeholders etc.
The dissemination of information
gathered by the above mentioned activities and research.
In order to comply with their future
responsibility and to prepare students to be professional conservator-restorers,
all the above-mentioned types of practice should be present, in a well-balanced
ratio, in a recognised Higher Education institution curriculum.
The Document of Pavia recommends in para 4 “an appropriate balance of integrated
theoretical and practical teaching”.
As can be seen in the list above, all types
of practice involve aspects of theory, which cannot be separated from the
“hands-on” practice element. In fact, the hands-on part – as much as it may
involve the necessity of training dexterity – is the last point in a long row
of researching, decision making, planning, testing of materials etc. Practice is
therefore always related to a theoretical background which has to be taken into
account and comes into the teaching of practice.
On the other hand, theory can be taught on
its own, independent of practice. Nevertheless, theoretical knowledge can be
conveyed more easily when linked to practice.
Pure basic theory will be preferentially taught
at the beginning of studies in order to give a basis from which to start.
Theory will also be taught in a phase where the student has already accumulated
enough practice in order to be able to relate theories to his/her experiences. More
advanced theory will preferentially be taught in later phase where the student
is confronted with problems of a deeper and more complex nature.
Apart from the teaching of pure theory, it
is obligatory that in a conservator-restorer´s study curriculum, the teaching
of explicitly practical interventions on original objects is provided, in terms
of a variety of different conservation-restoration projects.
It is necessary that candidates for
conservation-restoration studies must prove they have the necessary aptitude in
terms of manual skills. This has to be verified before the beginning of the
studies by means of entrance assessment. Otherwise an indispensable
precondition for reaching the learning outcomes is missing.
Education and training in some types of
practice, as described above, requires a specific way of teaching as well as
specific teaching conditions.
The education process must prepare the
student for the responsibilities that a future conservator-restorer will take
on. It is therefore necessary that the student is entrusted with
conservation-restoration projects on cultural heritage objects during her/his
studies under the guidance of a teacher. The projects and the tasks involved
can be of a relatively simple nature in the beginning, but while advancing the
student will have to master increasingly complex tasks. Teachers tutoring
practice projects should normally be fully professional conservator-restorers
themselves with ample experience in the relevant field.
Project-based practice education will
consist of case studies which should teach conservation-restoration methodology
as a primary goal. Apart from that, selected methods will be taught according
to the needs of the projects and the specialisation covered in the curriculum.
A full conservation-restoration curriculum
should enable the students to work through c-r projects from the very beginning
to the end. As the students advance through the curriculum, the complexity of
the projects should increase. In addition, towards the final stages of the
curriculum the independence of the students in executing these projects should
increase while the intensity of direct supervision decreases, in order for the
students to become autonomous and responsible professionals. In the end, a
level has to be reached which is compatible with the professional requirements,
taking into account the interdisciplinary nature of conservation-restoration
Within the framework of an educational
system student practice projects have to be independent of the pressures of
time/money which usually are dominating and limiting parameters to the
activities of a conservator-restorer. Only considerable independence from
time/money constraints gives the student the opportunity to develop a deeper
understanding of conservation-restoration with all its implications, including
the decision-making process. These conditions, in combination with the
necessary infrastructure and professional teaching, will normally be found only
in the context of a university or institution of recognised equivalence.
However, in order to prepare the student
for the profession, projects with tight deadlines must also be experienced.
This may be realised better in a placement, such as an internship outside the
university or educational institution. In such an environment the student is
able to experience the concrete implications of financial and time issues
involved in the preservation of cultural heritage.
One of the most important prerequisites is
the teacher:student ratio:
Practice which does not involve original
material will not need very close supervision and can normally be taught in
larger groups. Student conservation projects, on the other hand, need a low
teacher:student ratio, normally 1:6 or 1:8. In the case of a complex project
this ratio may even come down to 1:1, as is usual for final master projects.
The quality of an educational program depends directly on the teaching capacity
which is allocated to the practice component of the c-r program by the
university (or educational institution of recognised equivalence).
ICOM, Copenhagen 1984. The Code of Ethics.
The Conservator-Restorer: a Definition of the Profession, http://www.encore-edu.org
Professional Guidelines of E.C.C.O. 1993/94
Document of Pavia. Preservation of Cultural Heritage:
Towards a European profile of the conservator/restorer. European summit. Pavia
18-22 October 1997, http://www.encore-edu.org/pavia.html
The ENCoRE Document of Constitution,
Dresden, 9th November 1997, http://www.encore-edu.org/ENCoREConstitution.html
ENCoRE Newsletter 1/1998, http://www.encore-edu.org/ENCoRE-documents/Newsletters/nl1.PDF
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Conservators-Restorers of Cultural Heritage in Europe:
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Associazione Giovanni Secco Suardo, Lurano (BG), Italy, 2000, ISBN
Clarification of Conservation/Restoration Education at
University Level or Recognised Equivalent, ENCoRE 3rd General Assembly 19 - 22
June 2001, Munich, Germany http://www.encore-edu.org/ENCoRE-documents/cp.pdf
The Bologna Declaration. The European higher education
area. Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education. Bologna 19 June
E.C.C.O - ENCoRE Paper on Education and Access to the Conservation-Restoration
Profession, 2003, http://www.encore-edu.org
ECCO Professional Guidelines(III): Basic
Requirements for Education in Conservation-Restoration, 2004, http://www.encore-edu.org
The European Qualifications Framework for
Life long Learning, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European
Communities, 2008, ISBN 978-92-79-08474-4
Competences for Access to the Conservation-Restoration
Profession, E.C.C.O. 2011, ISBN 978-92-990010-1-1
In the context of this document the term
cultural heritage objects includes also objects from natural history
collections as well as modern and contemporary art and architectural elements.
Diagnosis is the identification of the nature and
cause of anything. Diagnosis is used in many different disciplines
with variations in the use of logics, analytics, and experience to determine
the cause and effect
relationships. It covers the act of identifying a condition of an object by
investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a condition and a statement
or conclusion from such an analysis
methods may include ultra-violet, infra-red or other electromagnetic radiation
In all cases, the quality of assessment is depending on the
quality of data from examination and diagnosis of objects and environmental
conditions and other significant factors.
or recognised equivalent (EQF level 6-8).