Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between conservation and restoration?

A: Restoration is the process of restoring an object to its original state. Conservation, however, is the process of preserving an object, stabilizing it, and improving its appearance for future generations. Conservation also helps to preserve the historic value of an object and often increases its market value.

Q: What type of artifacts can the Museum Conservation Center provide an assessment for?

A: Professionals at the Museum Conservation Center can assess the conservation needs of a variety of objects, including paintings, textiles, furniture, photos, paper-based documents, and much more. Visitors should call 412-454-6450 to learn more about what types of objects can be assessed.

Q: How can visitors schedule an appointment to meet with professionals at the Museum Conservation Center?

A: The History Center encourages all visitors to call the Museum Conservation Center at 412-454-6450 to provide a general description of the type of object, its condition, and any other pertinent details. The conservation services manager will then schedule an appointment and initiate the conservation assessment process.

Q: How does the conservation assessment process work?

A: At the first appointment, the owner will bring his/her object into the Museum Conservation Center, where a History Center professional will perform a preliminary assessment of the condition of the object, take photos to document the object’s condition, and review contract terms. At this time, the object is received into safe storage at the Museum Conservation Center and a professional conservator is assigned to perform an on-site assessment. The owner will receive a condition report and proposal for treatment within 30 days. When the owner agrees to proceed and provides a partial payment, the conservator is notified and arranges to transport the work to his or her studio off-site.

Q: What happens once the object is moved off-site?

A: Conservation work is implemented by a conservator specializing in the appropriate area of expertise (paintings, textiles, objects, paper-based documents, etc.). Using small tools and magnified viewing systems, an item may be cleaned, rejoined, or de-acidified. Some objects with multiple components may require two conservators to work in tandem. At the completion of the careful conservation process, the object is returned to the Museum Conservation Center, along with written and photo documentation of the work. The client receives notification that their piece is ready and a final invoice for payment in full. When the payment is made, the client returns to Museum Conservation Center and the finished piece is revealed to them.

Q: How much do conservation services cost?

Professional conservation services can range from $100 to more than $1,000 based on the type and condition of the object, and the assessment from the conservator. The Museum Conservation Center requires a $100 non-refundable deposit for storage and care at the time of assessment.

For more information on the Museum Conservation Center, contact Barb Conner, conservation services manager, at or 412-454-6450.