Chemistry for Conservators

The course will be conducted in English three times a year by correspondence.

To enrol for this course, please make an enquiry here. You will then receive a questionnaire and an enrolment form.

Chemical processes underlie many of the practices and techniques used in conservation. From environmental control to restoration, chemical interactions take place between the object and the outside world. They may be harmful or benign. If you are to apply chemical principles in practical treatments, you must understand the implications of chemical action.

This course provides an introduction for people with little (for instance lower school chemistry studied years ago) or no chemistry. The course provides an excellent background to many training courses in conservation; indeed several conservation training establishments recommend this course to potential students with an insufficient chemistry background. Taking this course should enable students to gain greater insight into their everyday work.

The syllabus focuses on major conservation issues, e.g. types of materials, the environment, cleaning and deterioration.

The course is divided into four blocks. An “Introduction” to chemical explanations of the physical world uses materials of common experience, air and water. “First principles” carries this further and explains the new language of chemistry. “Chemistry in action” samples the chemistry of materials that are of use in conservation. The final block, “Chemistry and the conservator”, applies the knowledge gained in the previous blocks to your work.

Course Materials

You will be supplied with a course pack which contains:

  • a chemistry text book
  • 3 Science for Conservators volumes
  • Experiment pack containing basic equipment and chemicals
  • Course folder

The course consists of fourteen units in total over 4 blocks. Each block of work corresponds to one month of the course with a deadline at the end of each month. The course requires around 12 hours per week of work.The student works through the course folder and is prompted at various points to answer questions or do experiments.

Course Writers: C.V. Horie (The Manchester Museum), Dr. D. Kenyon (Adult Education Lecturer)