Sculpture and installation art

We preserve and conserve a variety of traditional, modern and contemporary sculptures held within our collection

Martin Creed, ‘Work No. 203: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT’ 1999
Martin Creed
Work No. 203: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT 1999
Tate
© Martin Creed

Our duties

  • Prepare sculptures and installations for exhibition and display to support all Tate sites
  • Research and implement treatments on artworks
  • Study the techniques and materials used by artists, with a current material focus on plastics and neon artworks
  • Maintain, treat and protect our outdoor sculptures from deterioration caused by pollution and other environmental factors
  • Advise how best to handle our artworks, many of which are heavy, delicate and complex
  • Build bespoke cases to transport and protect sculptures against humidity, temperature and physical shock
  • Clearly document artworks and installations so they can be readily displayed around the world at other venues

challenges we face

    SCULPTURE

    Artists today use a wide range of materials. From traditional materials (such as marble or bronze) to ephemera (such as food, flowers or soap) as well as textiles, plastics, wood and lights in many formats; such as neon, fluorescent, mercury bulbs and LEDs. We use research and scientific analysis to inform our treatment and management of artworks, including the design and build of custom-made storage and travel containers, to reduce this risk of being damaged by movement and handling while allowing the artworks to be shown around the world.

    A metal pillar stands inside a metal table

    Ai Weiwei
    Table and Pillar 2002

    A man stands beside a metal frame around Table and Pillar

    Table and Pillar repacked with frame. The orientation of how this is stored was changed, reducing the overall footprint by 75%

    Installation

    Installation photograph of Jane Alexander African Adventure 1999–2002 

    Jane Alexander
    African Adventure 1999–2002
    © Tate Photography Tate 2016

    The installations we care for may occupy a whole room or even a series of rooms. They might include a range of different materials in the same work, which may require different environments and lighting. We plan and document how to pack and display the works as well as noting the current condition. Condition checking allows us to monitor and maintain the artwork as the artist originally intended. If change does occur and treatment is required, this is discussed with the estate to make sure the artist intent is always kept.

    Our collection

    Sculpture

    Browse sculpture in our collection

    Installation

    Browse installation in our collection

    Selected projects

    NANORESTART Project Update 3: A Challenge, A Sculpture, A Mystery Artist

    Read about nanotechnology solutions to the conservation and preservation at Tate

    Project