Conservation and Restoration of Photography


The Curricular Unit aims to develop critical and practical skills in the planning and preparation of a proposal for treatment in photographic species, as well as in the accomplishment of a conservation and restoration intervention according to the various typologies (various types of supports, emulsions photographic and image-forming materials), and / or in activities related to conservation and restoration procedures (eg cleaning, consolidation, stabilization, conditioning, restoration); the current methodologies for management and preservation of collections with varying dimensions will also be presented and deepened. The extensive range of photographic materials present in archives and collections will be discussed in this unit, and it is intended that the student apply the knowledge acquired in the diagnosis and treatment of conservation and restoration of photographic species from the nineteenth century to the 21st  century, with variable supports ( metal, glass, semi-synthetic and synthetic plastics, paper, textiles), variable emulsions (albumin, collodion and gelatine) and different image forming materials (silver, platinum, iron salts, dyes, pigments). The student will also be challenged to understand and respond to the challenges of analogue photography (historical and contemporary) as well as digital photography. Ethical and professional challenges related to the possible replacement of original elements used for assembly and / or packaging will also be presented and discussed. Digital reproduction (camera or scanner) will also be a topic to be discussed within the scope of the issue of accessibility and preservation of the image of the photographic species. The objectives are also the acquisition of critical spirit and practical autonomy in the evaluation i) identification and diagnosis of the conservation status of photographic species and secondary constituent materials; ii) contribution of intrinsic and extrinsic factors in the degradation of the photographic species; (iii) consequences of past (copyright or conservation) interventions; and iv) the risks associated with the active intervention, restoration and preservation proposed. Considering that the photographic species are composite materials, it is also intended that the student demonstrate a critical capacity in the selection and use of conservation and restoration products for performing active or preservation interventions. The written and photographic recording capacity during the diagnosis, planning of a treatment proposal, and the performance of the intervention will also be required to the student. Finally, it is intended that the student develop the ability to communicate in science through an oral presentation of the criteria for the selection of conservation and restoration materials and methodologies adopted in the case study, in a clear and objective manner and explain the procedure of intervention.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Élia Catarina Tavares Costa Roldão


Weekly - 6

Total - 84

Teaching language



The student should do the " Diagnosis and Conservation of Photographs and Other Records" course, previously.


  • Lavédrine, B., La Conservation des Photographies, Presses du CNRS, Paris, 1990.
  • Norris, D. H., Gutierrez, J. J., Issues in the Conservation of Photographs, Getty Publications, 2010.
  • Pavão, L., Conservação de Colecções de Fotografia, Dinalivro, Lisboa, 1997..
  • Pénichon, S., Twentieth-Century Colour Photographs: The Complete Guide to Processes, Identification and Preservation, Thames and Hudson, London, 2013.
  • Lavédrine, B., Fournier, A., Martin, G. (eds). POPART: Preservation of Plastic Artefacts in Museum Collections. Paris: Comité Des Travaux Historiques Et Scientifiques (CTHS), 2012.
  • Down, J., Adhesive Compendium for Conservation. Canada: Canadian Conservation Institute, 2015.
  • Shashoua, Y., Inhibiting the inevitable; current approaches to slowing the deterioration of plastics. In Macromolecular symposia, 238 (1) 2006, 67-77.
  • Thomson, G., The Museum Environment, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1986.

Teaching method

The program of this curricular unit is developed in the laboratory through the realization of conservation and restoration interventions in photographs. At the beginning of the semester the practical classes will have a theoretical-practical introduction about the intervention methods and materials available to the conservator of photographs, already taking a critical approach on the benefits and disadvantages of the various materials.

The evaluation includes the test (25%) + diagnostic report and intervention proposal (25%) + intervention report and presentation and discussion of the intervention (50%). The final classification results from the weighted average of these evaluation elements.

Evaluation method

The program of this course is developed in the laboratory by conducting conservation and restoration interventions in photographs. At the beginning of the semester, the practical classes will have a theoretical-practical introduction about the intervention methods and materials available to the photographs conservator, already taking a critical approach about the benefits and disadvantages of the various materials.

This course has frequency, that is, a set of conditions to be met by the student to have access to exam; The student will have access to the Exam of Appeal provided that he does not miss more than 1/3 of the practical lessons.

This curricular unit has 2 continuous evaluation components: a Theoretical-Practical component (TP) test and four Practical component (P). To be approved in the curricular unit it is necessary to have a minimum of 9.5 values ​​in both components (Theoretical-Practical and Practice)

The evaluation includes:


Test: 25%


2 written works to prepare conservation restoration practice: 15%

Diagnostic Report + Intervention Proposal + intervention report: 25%

Final Presentation and Discussion: 20%

Participation and ''''Hands on'''': 15%


Final Grade = (TP * 0.25) + (P * 0.75)

T = test grade or appeal exam grade.

P = includes 2 written works to prepare conservation restoration practice (15%), Diagnostic Report + Intervention Proposal Intervention Report (15%),  Final Presentation and Discussion (20%), Participation and Hands on (15%)

 Participation Assessment and ''''''''''''''''Hands On'''''''''''''''' capability includes:

- Attendance and punctuality;

- Conservation and restoration laboratory notebook;

- Desk / workspace preparation;

- Cleaning of workspace at the end of the day;

- Careful handling of objects;

- Fine motor skills in performing C&R procedures;

- Promotion of self-criticism and group evaluation regarding the proposals and interventions made.


Article 9 "Plagiarism and Fraud": 3. When the existence of fraud or plagiarism is proven in any of the assessment elements of a CU, the students directly involved shall be immediately failed in the CU, without prejudice to any disciplinary or civil proceedings, and the occurrence shall be reported to the Director of FCT by the person in charge of the CU.


Subject matter

  • From analogue photography to digital photography. The historical evolution of photographic materials, their degradation and conservation.
  • Introduction to the conservation and restoration of photographic materials.
  • The relevance of documentation in the condition assessment, treatment proposal and intervention report.
  • Elaboration of comprehensive condition assessment files, able to include distinct types of photographs.
  • Introduction to archivists practical and museological methodologies used for the organization, accessibility, and management of photography collections.
  • Cleaning: principles of cleaning, mechanical cleaning (dry), wet cleaning (direct and indirect), dirt, solvents, surfactants, detergents, pH.
  • Adherence and consolidation: principles of adhesion and consolidation, reversibility and retractability, effectiveness and safety, different types of adhesives and consolidators.
  • Physical stabilization: local stabilization with natural or synthetic paper and adhesive reinforcements, full stabilization (lining), sealing methods for stabilization.
  • Restoration: filing of gaps, chromatic reintegration (mimetic, tratteggio and pointillism), selection of materials for filling and chromatic reintegration.
  • Preventive conservation: environmental conditions (T, RH, light), packaging, exhibition packaging, storage conditioning, anoxia, cold storage, acid-free indicator strips, HR indicators, risk control, planning and implementation of actions preservation for small and large collections, etc.