The category of “wood” within the museum’s Conservation Department encompasses an extensive and varied range of objects made of this organic material that requires similarly wide-ranging treatments and care. Wood-based objects often contain different materials, too, such as metal, fabric, leather, ivory, horn, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, or, more recently, plastics and bonded composite-wood products.
The surface finishes of wooden objects are especially important. Whether varnished, polished, waxed, or painted, the use of different materials and techniques creates an individual aesthetic particular to each piece. More than any other part of an object, the very substance of this “protective coating” is constantly at risk from external environmental factors. Our objective is to preserve the historical context of all areas of an object while respecting how each part has aged, as well as the techniques and materials used to make them.
The conservation and care of the museum’s comprehensive collections of furniture, everyday objects, weapons, models, and technical appliances, including numerous large objects, continually pose new challenges for our conservators, in preparing them for exhibitions, storage, and transport.