Help us care for and preserve the national collection

  • A Tate conservator at work

    © Tate Photography

Tate conservators ensure that works in the national collection are displayed in the best possible condition for our visitors.

From unusual natural materials such as hair or elephant dung to rapidly changing technologies, our expert team must be able to respond to evolving artistic practices to be able to care for and preserve each of the 70,000 artworks by around 3,000 artists we hold on behalf of the nation.

Conservators at Tate are also engaged in a vibrant programme of research. They take a leading role in establishing international standards of care, display and transport of artworks, all of which are pro-actively shared with the wider conservation community.

Donate now

Help us protect, preserve and care for the national collection – now and for future generations.

Every gift, no matter the size, will make a real difference to this important area of work. Thank you.

Make a donation today

How your donations have helped

Below is just one of the ways in which donations have helped us to keep art on display in the best possible condition.

Henri Matisse conservation

Ahead of the ground-breaking Henri Matisse: Cut Outs exhibition at Tate Modern, the Collection Care team completed conservation work on one of the most loved works in the collection, The Snail.

The process

Using letters from Matisse’s assistant and the studio who originally mounted the canvas, our conservators closely examined the work to compare the current condition against previous reports and images.

Close up of Henri Matisse, The Snail

A close-up of The Snail

© Tate Photography

The team’s first task was to remove the frame and photograph the work. This allowed them to assess, document and understand the materials and techniques used in the piece.

In its unframed state, it was discovered that brown paper tape had been used to cover the edges of the work, securing it to the frame.

Unfortunately this tape had become acidic and degraded and was even crumbling into pieces in areas. By carefully removing and replaced the tape with a stable, acid-free conservation product, the long-term protection of the work is ensured.

Why conserving our collection matters

Taking colour measurements of gouaches on The Snail using a Minolta Chromameter CR-221

Taking colour measurements of gouaches on The Snail using a Minolta Chromameter CR-221

© Tate Photography

Another way the team can ensure that the piece stays in the best possible condition is by conducting a surface analysis using a spectrophotometer. This device monitors the colour density of artworks and is particularly useful in the case of Matisse as he is known for his use of colour.

The results will play a key part in helping to monitor future changes in the paint and will enable us to keep the work as close to its current excellent condition as possible for the enjoyment of future generations.

Download the Tate Fund report 2013/14 [PDF, 584 kB]