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  3. Preventive Conservation

Preventive Conservation (CUMC90029)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeCUMC90029
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject examines the physical and chemical causes of deterioration of cultural material, and considers how these can be effectively mitigated. Areas of study include the ten agents of deterioration that include light, incorrect relative humidities, incorrect temperature, physical stresses, biodeterioration, pollutants, pests, fire, criminal activity and dissociation. Students will critically evaluate current theories, international standards and guidelines for the management of museum and cultural collection environments and contexts. The context and opportunities for the implementation of a preventive conservation approach within an overall risk management framework will be emphasised, including environmental impact, budgetary implications, sustainability, and stakeholder management.

It is now readily acknowledged by most commentators that it is culturally preferable as well as financially advantageous to minimise or prevent deterioration of cultural material than to apply remedial conservation intervention after avoidable damage has been sustained. However this is a decision-making, community based process embedded in individual, institutional and community needs. As such this subject lays a critical foundation for effective professional practice as a conservator in preventive conservation.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • identify the main deterioration mechanisms that affect cultural material;
  • explain the effects of different physical and environmental conditions on cultural materials;
  • apply preventive conservation principles to the environmental risk, storage, packing, transport and display methods of cultural material to minimise the impact of degradation factors in diverse contexts;
  • formulate the risks associated in different physical and environmental conditions using the ten agents of deterioration and the value of collections using an evidence based framework;
  • justify sustainable risk management strategies for the long-term preservation of public and private collections; and
  • design risk management strategies for diverse collections, communities, contexts, geographic locations and environments.

Last updated: 1 June 2019