5 Core Concepts to Operate a Museum

1. The Conservation Department

The Conservation Department plays an important role in research and protecting museum artifacts. Museum curators and conservators rely on a combination of skills and techniques that, depending on the project, combine the patient, observational work of a crime investigator, the methodical approach of a research scientist, and the deft hand of an artist at working in an art studio setting.

Conserving a portrait of King Edward VI

Common Design Elements For Museum Conservation Laboratories

Like other laboratory projects, each museum’s conservation laboratory is different. But from our experience in creating conservation laboratory environments for major museums, there are some elements that are common to most installations. These include:

  • Workbenches
  • Specialized Equipment Tables
  • Chemically Resistant Countertops
  • Snorkels and Fume Hoods
  • Flexible Mobility Solutions

2. The Documentation Department

Conserving and displaying art and artifacts is just one aspect of a typical museum’s mission. There is also a need to create and maintain supporting documentation for each item in the museum’s collection. This is typically the responsibility of the Documentation Department.

3. The Research Department

When conservators and museum curators need more information they turn to the museum’s Research Department. At the top institutions, it’s not surprising to find museum research departments with advanced scientific capabilities, ranging from X-ray painting analysis, DNA testing, carbon dating capabilities, as well as high-power gear for microscopic, chromatographic, and spectrophotometric analysis. Indeed, many of today’s top museum research departments rival the capabilities of leading commercial and educational institution research labs.

In The Video From The British Museum In London Above, Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Is Used To Uncover The Dyeing Process Used To Add Color To The Fragile Fibers Of An Embroidery Dating Back To The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)

4. Exhibition Department

In the Exhibition Department, museum exhibit designers and technicians work closely with the museum’s curators and interpreters to create the inspirational design elements and display mounts that discreetly (but securely) hold the artworks and artifacts safely from harm’s way.

Conservator Zahira Veliz Steps Us Through The Slow, Painstaking Process Of Mounting An Exhibition With Priceless Works Art From The Prado Museum. Note The Careful Process Of Unpacking And Hanging The Paintings; All The Work Surfaces Are Thickly Padded To Protect The Art.

5. Educational And Information Services Departments

The mission of many museums includes providing educational programs for schools. These activities, which are typically managed by a dedicated Educational department within the institution typically include:



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store