Collection Care

  • cares for, stores and records the collection to ensure that it is available for future generations to enjoy
  • manages the collection’s movement and use, finding ways to protect works of art from deterioration while making them accessible to the viewing public.
  • supports and delivers Tate’s programmes of exhibitions, displays, loans and publications
  • builds the Library and Archive collections
  • provides public access and visitor services to the collection, Library and Archive.

It comprises the Collection Management, Art Handling and Storage, Conservation and Library and Archive departments.

Conservation

Conservation of Tate’s collection is an extraordinarily broad responsibility: it ranges from 1500 to the present day and includes a challenging spectrum of materials to preserve, restore and display. Conservators at Tate specialise in the following areas:

They are based at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and Tate Stores, and make regular visits to support the exhibitions and displays at Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.

The number of conservation staff has grown in line with Tate’s expansion to nearly 60 people, including conservators, technicians, scientists and administrators working on a full-time or part-time basis. The department takes on interns working towards completing their formal training and also employs researchers on short-term contracts funded by outside grants, particularly in the area of conservation science. It can take up to seven years to train as a conservator. Due in part to the need to understand a variety of different materials from paint to plastics, the field attracts people from many different backgrounds.

History

1950s

Conservation Department established in 1955, with one restorer and two technicians.

1960s

Department gains more restorers and studio space. Photography Department established, initially to provide a specialist service for conservation.

1970s

With the continued expansion of Tate more posts were established, including the first paper conservators. Tate was instrumental in establishing acentral institute for conservation training, based at the Courtauld Institute of Art and jointly run. Restorers were renamed as conservators.

1980s

Dedicated sculpture, frames, conservation and conservation science sections established. Paper conservation expands and gets a new home in Tate Britain’s new Clore Gallery to house 20,000 works on paper by J.M.W. Turner.

1990s and 2000s

Some technicians relocated to Tate Stores in South London. Additional conservators appointed in the early 1990s with specific responsibility for the new Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives sites. New conservators provided for Tate Modern, which opened in May 2000, and for time-based media.