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Wood and furniture conservation. Photo: Mathijs Terstegen.

Professional wood and furniture conservation

The wood and furniture course aims to train conservators-restorers who think and practise at a professional level either as general furniture conservators or as conservators of wooden objects in a smaller field, such as ethnography, picture frames or ship models.

Examination of the objects to be treated is the basis of the practical work, which focuses on construction, historical manufacture techniques and the materials used. In addition, students research the art- and cultural-historical background of the objects they treat.

Wood and furniture conservation: methods and techniques

Conservation-restoration techniques and traditional woodworking techniques are learned and practised, and applied in the treatment of objects. It is important that students acquire knowledge of the nature and behaviour of not only wood but also materials such as bone and tortoise shell, as well as binders, colouring materials and solvents. Many of these allied subjects are tied in with lectures in the Science modules.

Before departing for the PI work placement, students will know and become familiar with the entire range of these methods and techniques, becoming proficient in some. Several workshops offer the opportunity to learn more about certain subjects. An interdisciplinary approach is promoted by offering projects involving different disciplines at the same time. The selected objects usually offer either an interesting conservation problem, an opportunity to engage in ethical and specialist technical discussions or a chance to conduct diagnostic research into the art historical context, materials, damage, treatment methods, etc. There is also room in the programme for excursions and attending symposia.

The common thread in the programme is the development of insight into the field and the issues that dominate it. The didactic concept is based on students and trainee conservator-restorers realising that, although the process of restoration always involves a number of phases, in professional practice they will always be confronted with new problems for which solutions must be found.