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Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

Conservation

How are artworks preserved? How long can a painting survive? Will future generations be able to enjoy the art we are exhibiting in the museum today? Our conservators work to preserve and document all the varying types of art in the museum collection. Here you can read about the exciting work where the art stands in the spotlight.

The role and mandate of Moderna Museet is not just to exhibit art but also to ensure that the works are taken care of in the best way possible, both when they are installed on public show and when they are in the museum stores. When you see the work of artists in and around the exhibition spaces only a small fraction of the conservators’ work is visible. The department is responsible for the long-term perpetuation and maintenance of the artworks through preservation activities and active conservation, for the collection in its entirety and of individual works for exhibition, loan and deposition. The conservators are also responsible for the museums outside sculptures.

Many of the techniques and materials used by modern and contemporary artists are untraditional and often made with components that quickly degrade and break down. It’s conservations role to understand how the artworks materials behave and age, whilst taking into account the intentions of the artists. New methods may have to be developed which makes the preservation of modern and contemporary art a real challenge. Documenting the works of art and the artistic process, as well as material investigations and research projects centered on objects and conservation methods are also an important part in the work. All of the different strands contribute to an understanding of the museums artworks, and how they can best be preserved and exhibited, both now and in the future.

Films on conservation

Come along behind the scenes at Moderna Museet! The museum’s conservator will delve into the unexpected challenges they face among sculptures, storage facilities and x-rays. How does one transport a priceless taxidermied goat across half the of the globe? Can you save a fifty-year-old wallpaper whipped by weather and winter winds on the museum’s façade? And what artwork was so provocative that someone threw it into the water?

Published 28 November 2018 · Updated 6 July 2020

Read more on some of the work of the museums’ conservators