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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions received by the conservation division.

If you do not find an answer to a question that you have, please feel free to email us at [email protected] to submit your query. Questions of general appeal to our website visitors will be posted as time permits.

Q:  Does the conservation staff perform appraisals on works of art?

A: No. Due to ethical concerns, potential conflicts of interest, and the professional training and experience that is required to work as an art appraiser, the staff of the conservation division does not perform appraisals.

Q: If I send an image of a work of art, can anyone in conservation tell me if the work is authentic?

A: Works of art are not authenticated for the public by the conservation staff for many of the same reasons that appraisals are not performed.

Q: Can a staff conservator treat my work of art at the National Gallery?

A: The National Gallery of Art is a federal facility. The staff is prohibited from conducting private work on-site and is only allowed to perform conservation on works of art belonging to the Gallery. (Some museums not funded by federal or state sources encourage staff to take on private work at the museum and use this service to provide revenue sharing to support ongoing work within their institution.)

Q: How long does it take to perform a treatment on a work of art?

A: The answer depends on the amount and complexity of the work that needs to be done. Something simple may take a few days or weeks, while another treatment may take a year or more to complete. In many cases, careful study of works by the same artist is required to understand how to approach a planned treatment. Conservators also must tend to other important tasks within a workday so these responsibilities extend the time a treatment takes to complete.


See the Resource page and the section on Caring for Your Collection to find out more about ways to safely display and maintain your works of art.