Skip to Main Content

Preventive Conservation


The objective of preventive conservation is to stop environmental degradation and destruction of artwork before it occurs. Conservators who work in preventive conservation have a unique skill set and specialized knowledge of complex environmental conditions, including the monitoring and control of light, temperature, humidity, and pests. Exhibition and loan conservators provide expertise that ensures all art is handled in a conscientious manner during transport, installation, and display.

Effects of Light Exposure

Visible light is a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum to which the eye is sensitive. Its presence is essential for the most rewarding perception of almost all art. Yet exposure to light can result in cumulative and permanent damage to light-sensitive objects.

Watch video or listen to audio from conservation projects and programs.

Committed to preserving and protecting the works of art held in trust for the American people, the Gallery’s conservators and scientists are at the forefront in developing highly specialized methods of treatment and in using advanced technology to analyze works or art and explore how they were made.

Learn more about how to support their efforts.