NMK Global

Figure 1. A photograph of a common conservation process

Introduction to Conservation Science and International Exchanges

Conservation science refers to the study of the conservation and restoration of cultural properties. Over time, cultural materials suffer environmental and natural damage (physical, chemical, and biological), as well as damage caused by air pollution and people. To breathe new life into damaged cultural materials and restore them to their original forms, it is necessary to find the right balance between the traditional techniques of the past and the advanced methods of today. Conservation science is dedicated to the research, survey, and conservation (environmental management and restoration) of cultural heritages. The domain of conservation science expands beyond restoration (repair and reconstruction) of tangible cultural heritages such as metal, clay/ceramic, wood, ancient architecture, stone cultural properties, paintings, papers, and textiles. It also covers the study of the technological history of cultural heritages, as well as preventive conservation, including environmental management.
The National Museum of Korea is well known for its expertise in conservation science. The museum’s activities in this area include inviting researchers from abroad to train staff, and undertaking conservation projects for cultural properties excavated outside of South Korea. The museum also operates overseas training and survey programs aimed at strengthening academic exchanges with overseas museums.
Figure 2 Conference on conservation technologies for Central Asian fresco paintings

Past International Exchanges

a. South Korea–Japan (Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) 1990–1993
  • Research Subject: Research on New Technologies for the Scientific Conservation of Prehistoric Cultural Properties
  • Supervised by: Collaboration between the National Museum of Korea and Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
  • Researchers: Sang Su Lee, Byeong Chan Ahn, In Jun Park, Hye Seon Yu
  • Outcome: Research report on “Pressurized Desalination of Metal Artifacts” published
b. South Korea–China (Liao Ying Museum) May 28 – August 15, 1996
  • Research Subject: Conservation of Waterlogged Archaeological Wood
  • Supervised by: Conservation Science Team, National Museum of Korea
  • Researchers: Gong Wi Lee (Liao Ying Museum); Byeong Chan Ahn, Yong Hee Lee (National Museum of Korea)
  • Outcome: Acquired information on traditional conservation techniques in China and published a paper on the same subject matter
c. South Korea–Japan (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo) 2001-2003
  • Topic: Exchange on Conservation Treatment for Central Asian fresco paintings
  • Management: Management carried out by the Conservation Science Team of the National Museum of Korea
  • Researchers: Shigo Aoki, Noriko Yamamoto, Kentaro Ohbayashi (Japan) Hyeong Tae Kang, Yong Hee Lee, Hei Sun Yu, Yeon Tae Cho, Su Cheol Kim (National Museum of Korea)
  • Outcome: Published a report on surveys conducted by the Conservation Science Department (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, March 2005)

Invitational Training Programs with Overseas Researchers

Figure 3 A training session held at the conservation laboratory of the National Museum of Korea, led by an overseas expert
Invitational Training Programs with Overseas Researchers
Participating Organizations and Staff Training Period Description
National Museum of Iraq
- Mohammad Salih Atia
- Saad Hamza Zegher
May 16 – June 10, 2005 Shared field experiences related to the management of the conservative environment in museums and conservation technique
  March–November 2007 Metal cultural properties Conservation Training
Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East, Russian Academy of Sciences - Igor Y. Buravlev June–November 2009 Metal cultural properties Conservation Training
Staff, Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, China - Huang Fan August 2009 – July 2010 Conservation Methods and Environments for Different Materials

Conservation of Cultural Properties Excavated Overseas

Figure 4. Bronze earrings excavated from Vietnam, after conservation
Figure 5-a. An excavation site in Mongolia, excavation process
Figure 5-b. Artifacts excavated from Mongolia, after conservation
Conservation of Cultural Properties Excavated Overseas
Year Details of Conservation Quantity
2010–2013 Metal, wooden, clay/ceramic, and fabric artifacts excavated from Duurlig Nars, Mongolia 502 Objects
2012 Jade stones and clay objects excavated from Duurlig Nars, Mongolia 4 Objects
Bronze fishing hooks and other items excavated from Da Nang, Vietnam 173 Objects
2014 Bronze earrings and other items excavated from Bai Loi-Bai Coi, Vietnam 17 Objects
Sun, Moon and Five Peaks, British Museum, UK 2 Objects

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