Surveys and Advice


The Scottish Conservation Studio provides conservation surveys of collections. The standard types are listed below, but every museum is different and reports and advice are adapted to meet the needs of the museum concerned.

- Preventive Conservation Advisory Surveys cover all aspects of the conservation and care of the collections, from the building as a protective envelope to storage and display methods. All types of collections are included but the focus is on preventive conservation issues such as environmental management, pest control, housekeeping and handling and transport of objects. Such surveys normally require a one-day visit to the museum to gather information, and several days to write a detailed report. The advice given aims to be pragmatic and achievable and recognises the individual needs and resources of the museum organisation.

- Specialist Conservation Surveys in the areas of Paper and Photographs, Costume and Textiles, and Artefacts. These are carried out by a conservator specialising in the relevant collection type and aim to help the museum meet best practice in collection care. Such surveys normally require a one-day visit to the museum to gather information, and several days to write a detailed report. Where time allows, condition reports, treatment proposals and estimates may be provided for key objects or objects of concern where these fall within the expertise of the surveying conservator.

- Conservation Estimating Surveys are designed to cover the same specialist areas described above, and provide condition reports, treatment proposals and estimates for the conservation of a series of objects. Such reports are particularly useful for planning work programmes and projects where it may be intended to apply for grants to cover the costs. The time required to undertake the survey depends on the number and type of objects to be assessed.

- Statistical Surveys of Collections focus on providing information about the condition of larger collections, based on a small sample of randomly selected objects. Such surveys provide an efficient means of comparing different sub-collections within the museum to ensure the best use of resources, and may provide evidence to support grant applications for major projects to improve the state of collections. Data is gathered via spreadsheet or via the CAT (see below) and is summarised in table and graph form. Statistical surveys may be conducted amongst particular areas of museum collections, but more often cover all areas, and thus make use of a number of different specialist conservation advisers who work under a lead surveyor. The Studio has excellent links with other specialist conservators in Scotland and can bring in any expertise required. Statistical surveys are time-consuming and therefore tend to be more costly than Preventive Surveys and Specialist Surveys.

- The CAT (Condition Assessment Tool) is a Microsoft Access database application which may be downloaded without cost from the CollectionsLink website. The CAT is designed to gather information about collection condition and may be used by museum staff and volunteers (with some training and guidance) as well as professional conservators. The CAT can be used to gather condition data and costs of conservation for a particular project, or it can be used to audit the condition of the collection (as suggested in the Museum Accreditation Standard) by regularly re-visiting and assessing a fixed sample of objects in the collection. The Studio offers training in the use of the CAT where museums are contemplating condition surveys or audits of their collections.

Please visit the CollectionsLink website to download the CAT and associated documentation.

Please visit the Museums Libraries and Archives Council website to find out more about Museum Accreditation.


The Scottish Conservation Studio provides free conservation advice to members of Museums Galleries Scotland. We are happy to answer queries from member museums via letter, email and telephone. Where we cannot assist, we will do our best to pass you on to those who can help.