Conservation and Restoration of Modern and Contemporary Heritage


The aim of the present curricular unit is to develop both practical and critical skills in the student for the proposal and carrying out of a conservation treatment for an object from the modern/contemporary cultural heritage, and/or activities related to conservation procedures (cleaning, consolidation, stabilization, etc.). Given the specificity of conservation treatments for non-conventional materials such as plastics, foams and rubbers, it is intended that the student understands both ethical and professional challenges related to conservation interventions that are specific to this heritage, such as the possible need for following replacement, replication, and/or emulation approaches. Also, the objectives include knowledge acquisition and gaining of autonomy in the evaluation of i) a cultural object condition; ii) cause(s) of damages; (iii) consequences of past interventions; and iv) risks associated with the student’s treatment proposal. In the absence of tested and approved conservation methodologies (a common situation in the conservation and restoration of objects made of plastic, foam and rubber), it is also intended that the student acquires autonomy in the development of an experimental design, which will enable him to test the efficiency and safety of treatments, possibly appropriate for the case study. It is also intended that the student acquires knowledge on conservation products and materials and that he/she demonstrates a critical capacity in their selection and use. Photographic and written documentation throughout the entire process is also required. This includes the Condition Report, the Intervention Proposal and the Intervention Report. Finally, it is intended that the student develops his/her scientific communication skill (oral communication) through the presentation of his/her conservation treatment in an objective and concise way. Here, the criteria for the selection of both conservation materials and techniques are discussed and explored, as well as the outcome of the intervention.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Joana Lia Antunes Ferreira, Susana Catarina Dias França de Sá


Weekly - 6

Total - 93

Teaching language



To attend the CRPMC Curricular Unit, students are recommended to have had prior aproval of the following curricular units from LCR:

- Preventive Conservation;

- Diagnostics Curricular Units (at least, approval on 1/2 of the UCs);

- Polymers in Conservation.


Jadzinska, M., & Parzuchowski, P. (2014). New Materials in Works of Art (Plastics) – The Challenge of Our Times. 
Russell, R., & Winkworth, K. (2009). Significance 2.0: A guide to assessing the significance of collections.
Blank, S. (1990). An introduction to plastics and rubbers in collections. 
Lavédrine, B., Fournier, A., Martin, G. (eds). (2012). POPART: Preservation of Plastic Artefacts in Museum Collections. 
Shashoua, Y., Segel, K., van Oosten, T., Laganà, A., Keneghan, B., Barabant, G., Bollard, C., and Kuperholc, S. (2011). Wiping away the dirt—a safe option for plastics?
Horie, C. V. (2010). Materials for conservation: organic consolidants, adhesives and coatings. 
Down, J. (2015). Adhesive Compendium for Conservation. 
Shashoua, Y. (2006). Inhibiting the inevitable; current approaches to slowing the deterioration of plastics.

More bibliography is shown at the "Others" section in clip.

Teaching method

The syllabus of this curricular unit is developed through practical work that focuses on the application of conservation and restoration treatments, in which the student applies the acquired knowledge to a case study (directly into a cultural object and/or testing samples), proceeding to the carrying out of all phases of the conservator-restorer’s work: condition report, treatment proposal, intervention and intervention report. There will be also discussions of scientific papers focusing subjects that are selected to be transmitted, as well as the oral presentation of subject matters by the professor. 

Evaluation method

This course has frequency, that is, a set of conditions to be met by the student to have access to exam; The student will only have access to the Appeal Exam if he/she does not miss more than 2/3 of the practical classes.

The CRPMC UC is evaluated by two components: theoretical-practical (25%) and practical (75%). For UC approval, each component has a minimum grade of 9.5.

The evaluation of the theoretical-practical part will be based on a test (28th November at 10h) or final exam. There is only one exam date.

The evaluation of the practical part will be based on four evaluation elements: two reports (15% + 20%, 35% total), an oral presentation (20%) and participation and hands-on capacity (20%).

The first report (condition report and intervention proposal) must be delivered by 14/11, maximum 10 pages (excluding bibliography and appendices).

The second report (final report) should be delivered by 17/12, maximum 15 pages (excluding bibliography and attachments).

The final presentation will be scheduled together with all Conservation and Restoration teachers, in a date to be determined (8th January).

(more details on the evaluation are in the "others" section of the clip)

Subject matter

  • Introduction to the conservation of modern and contemporary heritage - challenges and specificities.
  • The importance of documentation (photographic and written) in the conservator''''s work – condition report, treatment proposal and intervention report.
  • Methodologies for decision making processes – application of the significance assessment model for objects and collections.
  • History, degradation and conservation - from semi-synthetic to synthetic polymers.
  • Preventive conservation applied to plastics, foams and rubbers – environmental conditions: definition of optimum environmental conditions for these unconventional materials (T, RH, light, etc.).
  • Preventive conservation applied to plastics, foams and rubbers – conditioning and packaging: definition of optimal packaging conditions for these unconventional materials (open, enclosed), anoxia, adsorbing and absorbing materials, RH indicators, transparent barrier films, silicone-coated films.
  • Active conservation applied to plastics, foams and rubbers – cleaning: principles of cleaning, efficacy and safety, mechanical cleaning, wet cleaning, dirt, solvents, Teas diagram, surfactants, detergents, pH.
  • Active conservation applied to plastics, foams and rubbers – adhesion and consolidation: principles of adhesion and consolidation, reversibility and retractability, efficacy and safety, natural and synthetic, water-based and solvent-based adhesives and consolidants, application methods.
  • Active conservation applied to plastics and rubbers – stabilization: application of protective coatings, UV stabilizers, HALS, antioxidants.