Department is one of the
longest standing conservation training centres in the UK. The
Department was formally established in 1973, but grew out of the
Restoration & Carving courses founded in 1946 by William Wheeler,
developed to train specialists for the restoration of London
architecture, monuments and treasures damaged during the Second World
War. The Art School has held on to its commitment to excellence in both
historic carving and conservation with two highly successful
departments in both subjects alongside its highly acclaimed Fine Art
department and Foundation course in Art and Design.
The Conservation Departments focus is
on the conservation of three:dimensional cultural objects made from
wood, stone and other related sculptural materials, together with
conservation of decorative surfaces. Students work on a wide variety of
objects loaned from leading public and private institutions. Under
close supervision from a team of specialist tutors, students carry out
all phases of conservation of artifacts, including examination,
documentation and treatment through to the compiling of recommendations
for future care.
The Conservation Department is
currently involved in collaborative projects with the Victoria and
Albert Museum, Tate Gallery, Rochester Cathedral, St Pauls Cathedral,
the Watts Gallery, English Heritage, Westminster Abbey, the Foundling
Museum, Venice in Peril and other important cultural institutions.
These live projects offer our students rare opportunities to work
directly with conservation professionals and provide invaluable
insights into the ways that treatment decisions are made and how
conservation ethics are applied in real life situations. All research
projects make use of the analytical techniques taught often in
collaboration with the Materials Department at Imperial College through
our Memorandum of Understanding.
In 2012 the Department was refurbished to provide
a high quality and well equipped specialist working environment. Thanks
to a generous donation from a private benefactor the Conservation
Department acquired a laser (Nd:YAG Q:switch) in 2008 and since then it
has been the only place in the UK providing students with the
opportunity to learn and test laser cleaning techniques.
The Conservation Department
has a generous ratio of staff to students and the study week is full
and demanding. All tutors are highly experienced professionals with
many years of experience in conservation, who combine their
professional activities with teaching at the Art School on a part time
basis. This creates a vibrant environment where students have the
opportunity to interact with the world of professional conservation.
The conservation students represent a
diverse international community across a wide range of age groups,
cultural and professional backgrounds.
A number of organisations and private
individuals support our students with bursaries and sponsorship. This
is in recognition of the high standards and importance of the courses
for the cultural sector and their role in securing the future for these
The Department is both nationally and
internationally renowned for its preparation of conservators for the
world of skilled practical conservation and for the care of historic
property. Our graduates enjoy one of the highest rates of employment in
the professional field. The Department alumni list includes
conservators in all of the major museums in the UK, some of them
occupying senior positions. Many of our graduates are also employed in
the private sector as freelance conservators.