Material and artefact conservation
Heritage Victoria operates Victoria's only Conservation Centre specialising in archaeology. The Centre is staffed by a team of professional conservators and archaeologists who have been based at the facility since it opened in June 2002.
What the Centre does:
- Manages the collection of artefacts from land archaeological sites, shipwrecks and buildings with the aim of making it more accessible to the public, as well as for research and exhibition
- Advises on and analyses artefact and material conservation issues in historic buildings and sites
- Advises heritage consultants, owners of registered places and registered custodians of shipwreck artefacts on the preservation of artefacts and materials associated with registered sites
Accessing the collection
The collection can be accessed online via the Victorian Archaeological Artefact Database. Note this link takes you to the database hosted by Museum Victoria.
The collection may be viewed by appointment at the Conservation Centre. Objects are available for loan to other organisations for exhibitions, research or education projects. Contact the Conservation Centre to discuss access, loans or exhibitions.
Submitting artefacts to the Heritage Victoria Conservation Centre
The Guidelines for Investigating Historical Archaeological Artefacts and Sites outline the requirements under Permits and Consents for historical and maritime archaeological artefacts and assemblages in Victoria.
All assemblages submitted to Heritage Victoria must be catalogued using the Heritage Victoria Catalogue Template.
What is materials conservation?
It is the art and science of preserving cultural artefacts and materials to ensure their survival for future generations. Materials conservation is a technical activity based on knowledge of the structure and chemistry of artefact materials. It includes treatments to stabilise and repair artefacts, researching treatment materials and the preventive care of artefacts.
What types of materials can be found at heritage places?
- Architectural ceramics (tiles, chimney pots)
- Coatings (signs, graining, varnish)
- Wood (furniture, interior fittings)
- Stone (headstones, sculpture, gargoyles)
- Metals (sculpture, commemorative plaques, cast iron fencing/lace, roofs)
- Glass (leadlight, stained glass)
- Textiles (carpets, wall-coverings)
- Paper (wall paper, drawings)
- Modern materials (linoleum, rubber)
- Electrical items (light fittings, signs)
- Artworks (oil paintings, wall paintings, watercolours)
- Photographs (portraits, documentation)
- Historic shipwreck material (waterlogged and corroded artefacts)
What sort of advice can a conservator offer?
They can advise on how to care for materials (non-structural) from registered places. This may be advice that an owner or custodian can apply themselves or a referral to an appropriate materials conservation consultant. The conservator might also be available to visit a place and assist with project briefs or artefact proposals and treatments.
Who is this advisory service available to?
- Owners and custodians of registered places.
- Nominated custodians of shipwreck materials under the Commonwealth Amnesty scheme
- Consultants or tradespeople carrying out work under a Heritage Victoria permit or funding program
- Staff of regional and local historic and maritime museums with collections relating to Victoria's registered places
- Local Government heritage advisers and employees.
- Management committees for places on the Victorian Heritage Register.
- Staff of other State heritage agencies.
Others will be referred to appropriate organisations.