What are Preservation and Conservation Technologies?


As long as there have been museums, their mission has been to preserve and conserve our collective cultural heritage. Preservation refers to the protection of important objects, artifacts, and documents; conservation is the science of maintaining objects in as close to their original form as possible. As technology evolves, archivists and conservators have encountered a steady stream of new challenges in both of these tasks. Digital objects can be as delicate as ancient objects, requiring special care, and changing technologies puts these digital items at great risk. Cultural works that are time-based add a level of complexity in the quest for preservation, due to the added consideration of the artist's intent, or context, or movement. Understanding and preserving how media is intended to be experienced while maintaining the integrity of its cultural identity encompasses a number of a considerations such as conservation ethics, legal agreements, availability of mechanical and/or digital materials, and historical scholarship. While museums have long employed specialists in artifact preservation, today new professionals are needed who understand digital and time-based media, and can address preservation and conservation challenges not only from physical, but artistic, cultural, engineering, electronic, and other multi-disciplinary perspectives.


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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?


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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • There seems to be at least two different ideas here - the preservation and conservation of physical objects using digital technologies, and the preservation and conservation of digital objects. In the latter case, one has to wonder if part of their appeal and/or intent of the creator is that very epehemerality and, if so, should we even attempt to capture it? Of course one could say the same thing about live music Vs digital recordings for example - perhaps there is a need for both, providing it is with the consent of the original creator? - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 16, 2016
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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