Conservation and Restoration of Modern and Contemporary Heritage


This UC aims to develop the student''s critical and practical skills in preparing a proposal and carrying out the conservation and restoration (CR) intervention in an object of modern/contemporary heritage, and/or activities related to CR procedures ( eg cleaning, consolidation, stabilization, etc) applied to modern materials. Given the specificity of the treatment of these materials (plastics, foams and rubbers), the UC wants the student to understand the ethical and professional challenges related to specific CR interventions of this nature''s heritage, taking into account the possible need to adopt measures such as replacement of elements, replication, and/or emulation.

The acquisition of knowledge and autonomy in assessing i) the state of conservation of a cultural object are also objectives; ii) cause(s) of the damages presented by the object; iii) consequences of interventions carried out in the past; and iv) the risks associated with the proposed intervention.

In the absence of already tested and approved intervention procedures (common in the area of ​​CR of plastic, foam or rubber objects), it is also intended that the student acquires autonomy in the development of an experimental design that allows him to test the effectiveness and safety of treatments potentially suitable for the case study.

It is also intended that the student acquires knowledge about CR''s products and materials and demonstrates critical capacity in their selection and use. Photographic and written documentation throughout the entire process is also required. This includes the Intervention Diagnosis and Proposal Report, and the Intervention Report.

Finally, it is intended that the student develops the ability of scientific communication (oral presentation) in an objective and concise manner of the intervention carried out, where the criteria for the selection of materials and techniques for conservation and restoration are discussed and explored, as well as the result of the intervention.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Joana Lia Antunes Ferreira, Susana Catarina Dias França de Sá


Weekly - 6

Total - 98

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 (date to be specified) 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 (date to be specified), maximum 10 pages (excluding bibliography and appendices).

The second report (final report) should be delivered by (date to be specified), 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.

In any evaluation moment, students must also take into consideration the provisions of nº3 of article 10º of the ''Evaluation Rules of FCT NOVA'', “When fraud or plagiarism is proven in any of the evaluation elements of a UC, students directly involved are outright disapproved at UC, (…). ”

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.