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Conservation

We are proud to care for some of the most important buildings and collections in the world. We carry out world-leading conservation work to preserve and enhance the thousands of treasures in our guardianship, so that the palaces and collections have a life today and in the future.

Conservation is all the activities we do to manage change to the collections over time, and involves many specialists to help us understand, protect and share the heritage in our care. Our work includes research, managing environmental risks, cleaning, stabilisation and treatment. We prepare and mount objects for new exhibitions and love to share our discoveries, encouraging everyone to join us as heritage guardians.

Our expert conservation team is part of a long history of caring for the palaces; our conservation studio was set up in 1912 by William Morris and Co, with traces back to the Great Wardrobe, established in the 13th century. This ensures the palaces have a future as bright as their past.

Conservation in action and practice

We protect, conserve and manage the collections across our six palaces. We are passionate about revealing and preserving the stories and layers of history hidden in the collections. Our world class research informs everything that we do. We learn from past practices and encourage innovation, exploring creative and sustainable solutions to the challenges we face in preserving the nation’s heritage.

Watch How to Conserve a Historic Mantua Dress

Explore behind the scenes at the Textile Conservation Studio at Hampton Court Palace and discover how the Rockingham Mantua, an exceptional example of an 18th century court mantua, is conserved and mounted for display. 

Join our talented conservators as they practice safely mounting this historic dress for display.

Video Transcript of Conserving a Rare 360-Year Old Dress: Behind the Scenes

Follow along with an interactive transcript of How to Conserve a Historic Mantua Dress on YouTube. A link to open the transcript can be found in the description.

How we conserve the collections

Discover conservation in action online with Google Arts and Culture. We protect conserve, research and manage the collections on display and in store across our six palaces.

Conservation in Action on Google Arts and Culture

Treatment Conservation

Treatment Conservation is the meticulous and skilful process of a conservator intervening with an object to improve its condition. We work to address ongoing deterioration, stabilise and strengthen it as needed, and restore its aesthetic appeal if required.

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Preventive conservation

Preventive conservation looks at potential issues that may cause damage, then develop pragmatic solutions to resolve these in the most sympathetic and sustainable way for both the buildings and collections. 

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Conservation research

Conservation research happens across the palaces and scientific research is a core activity. A range of research projects are undertaken from tapestries to terracotta roundels.

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Preparing objects for display

Objects that are displayed in our palaces undergo a thorough assessment to ensure they are in optimal condition before being prepared for display. Find out the ways this is carried out and why it is important. 

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Collections

Our palaces host internationally important collections of fine and decorative art, the majority forming part of the Royal Collection. We look after our more than 60,000 objects relating to the history of the palaces in our own collections and 10,000 items of historic dress in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection.

Hear from our Conservators on our Blog

The Queen's Bedchamber in the Georgian Apartments at Hampton Court Palace. The crimson state bed was made for the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George II and Queen Caroline) in 1715. It is surrounded by a gilded bed rail, possibly made for King Charles II's wife, Henrietta Maria, then used by the King himself.

Queen Caroline's State Bed is Back!... on Display

Go behind the scenes with the Conservation team at Hampton Court Palace, who are continuing their work on Queen Caroline's much-loved State Bed.