Everything Judged on Its Own Merit? Object Conservation and the Secular Museum

Titika Malkogeorgou


This paper is an anthropological study on conservation and museum practice, interrogating the negotiative value of conservation.  It is asking who’s worth consulting when dealing with the preservation of complex museum objects, when a source community is a legitimate contributor to object conservation, and what are the ethical considerations posed for conservators confronted with such cases. Conservation is capable of bringing together more disciplines in the care of objects and creates a process of re-evaluation through technical analysis and treatment. I will discuss this process and what it may mean for the secular museum through the case study of a copper alloy Tibetan Buddha sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The debate around the object ultimate involved conservators, curators, heads of departments, local Buddhist representative, the director, and the museum trustees to decide on the extent of the intervention. This is a case study which challenges the character of the object, it reveals the object’s affective value and how the object’s meaning may change according to context and people. It questions the role of the conservator, the relevance of source communities and how the host institution influences conservation as it follows changes in concept and approach to museum objects.

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How to cite: Malkogeorgou, T 2013. Everything Judged on Its Own Merit? Object Conservation and the Secular Museum. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies 10(2):1-7, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/jcms.1021203

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This article has been peer reviewed (journal peer review policy).

Published on 4 February 2013.

ISSN: 1364-0429 | Published by Ubiquity Press | Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.