Condition Reporting & Significance Assessment

Examination of a paper item
Examination of a paper item

Condition reporting

Condition reports, where individual items are assessed for their condition and conservation needs, can be useful documents for the preparation of items for auction (prior to purchase/sale); travel; exhibition loan; insurance purposes.

Condition reports are important records, used to describe the condition of an object at a point in time and used as a reference from which to track changes.  Condition reports are provided with images and notated overlays to assist in the recording of condition prior to: travelling exhibitions; loans; and auction. They can also be used to complete an inventory of all materials and record methods of manufacture.

To discuss condition assessments and reports prepared by a conservator, please call: Paintings: (+61 3) 9348 5749; Paper, Photographs, Parchments or Books: (+61 3) 9348 5746; Objects and Textiles: (+61 3) 9348 5747

Significance assessment

Significance assessment is the process of studying and understanding the meanings and values of objects and collections. Significance assessment aims to clearly articulate the value and meaning of objects and collections, in order to make sound decisions about conservation and interpretation of the collection.

An object itself may be important or significant because of its historic, aesthetic or scientific values, but in some cases an element or part of an object is significant. Once the significant elements or features of an object or group of objects are identified and described in a statement of significance, a conservation treatment plan can then be proposed. Important and relevant information can be easily destroyed through inappropriate or poorly planned conservation interventions. Over zealous cleaning or restoration practices can remove significant information about the history or use of an object. This is less likely to occur when the significant elements have already been identified. For example, a stain on a textile that at first glance appears disfiguring or even damaging may in fact be a highly relevant attribute to the history of the item.

Conservation and collection management practices must therefore be guided by the significance of the item. Significance assessment frameworks are used to ensure that the significance of an object is not arbitrarily allocated, but rather that it is defined and applied within a known and understood set of criteria.

Further information regarding significance assessments can be found at the Collections Australia Network website.

For advice regarding significance assessments in your collection, please call (03) 9348 5748