About Conservation

The National Portrait Gallery's Conservation Department performs one of the Gallery's core functions, the long-term preservation of all Collection items, to make them accessible now and in future.

The Collection dates from the 8th century to the present day, and consists of portraits in a variety of media, so the Gallery employs Conservators with expertise in a range of disciplines, including Framing, Painting, Paper, Sculpture and Photography.

The majority of Conservation work at the Gallery is undertaken in the Frame Conservation and General Conservation studios, in close proximity to the main Gallery building.

Conservators have a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • undertaking remedial work, such as cleaning, consolidating, infilling and retouching
  • undertaking preservation work, to ensure works are stable and suitable for display in the Gallery or on loan
  • providing advice and guidance to ensure all Collection items are correctly handled, packed, moved and displayed
  • regularly surveying Collections in the Gallery and in storage.

The Frame Conservation section also takes in interns and is actively involved in training programmes.

Conservation-Related Research Projects

The Gallery is involved in research projects that increase conservation-related knowledge, including:

Making Art in Tudor Britain
The Art of the Picture Frame
British Picture Framemakers 1610–1950
British Picture Restorers, 1630–1950