All who teach and study at West Dean are committed to the guiding principles and standards of object conservation, which includes: condition assessment, stabilisation and cleaning through to repair and sensitive restoration, respecting the integrity of our cultural heritage. All work is fully documented. Preventive conservation is offered including collections survey, storage and transportation consultation and proper display and environmental maintenance. Every object is unique, as is its use and context, so every treatment proposal is fully discussed with the owner and approved in advance. Thanks to the variety of specialisms taught and practised at West Dean (see below), there is the benefit of on-site consultation and shared treatment responsibilities for mixed media objects.
West Dean College’s Conservation programmes enable our students to progress to MA level and beyond. Under the close supervision of their tutors, students with advanced standing learn from the work they undertake on carefully selected objects.
Quality and expertise is consistent with this learning environment and the scheduling and completion of work is generally tied to an educational timetable and the academic calendar.
Conservation of Books and Library Materials
We provide a conservation service for a wide range of books and associated materials, both manuscript and printed, focussed on the treatment of historic books and collections. Work is undertaken for public or private collections, on leather, cloth, parchment and paper bindings, and related objects such as maps and prints.
Conservation of Metalwork
We carry out treatment, report writing and consultancy for a full range of mainly historic metalwork objects. The department provides sensitive and sustainable solutions for the appropriate conservation and restoration of metals. In all cases the long term stability, future use and display is discussed with the client whether they be museums, institutions ,heritage organisations, ecclesiastical bodies, antiques trade, family owners or collectors in order to provide appropriate treatment and advise on options for long term, future care of the piece.
Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials
We undertake the assessment and conservation treatment of ceramics, glass and related materials including enamel and plaster objects. We advise on archaeological material through to contemporary objects from a broad range of contexts. We currently have clients from the public and private sectors and projects range from individual treatments to collections care.
Conservation - Restoration of Clocks and Related Objects
The conservation of clocks at West Dean is centred around the teaching and experience of hand and machine tool skills. It is informed by a professional practice based view of the object. The clocks come from a variety of private and public organisations as well as collectors.
Conservation - Restoration of Furniture and Related Objects
We provide conservation of furniture and a wide range of related objects, emphasising decorative surface coatings, gilding and lost ornamental elements. Conservation is complemented by a focused diploma programme in historic making practices, so our conservators can undertake commissions for new furniture, built to either historic or contemporary designs.