Conservation

The National Galleries of Scotland’s Conservation Department cares for and researches our extensive collection, be it paintings, frames, works on paper or photographs. It also provides care for all works lent to the gallery in support of our busy exhibition programme.

In order to properly care for works of art, conservation specialists must understand the materials chosen by the artist, how they react with each other, how they age and, ultimately, what the artist was trying to achieve. This awareness underpins all conservation decisions, from the selection of a cleaning method to the control of the environment in which a work is displayed and stored.

Collaboration with other institutions and private restorers helps us to extend the range of expertise to cover the care of sculpture, textiles and books, with an increasing emphasis on the care of contemporary art.

An array of techniques is used to examine the works in our care. This may include high-powered magnification, x-radiography, beta-radiography, ultraviolet and infra-red light, and material analysis. Such close investigation often provides new information about how a work has been created, helping in its interpretation.