Applied Art Studio

Discover how the Applied Art Studio conserves social history and decorative objects.

Conservation of a marching drum featuring portrait of Jim Larkin

The applied art conservation studio of the National Museum of Ireland is based in the Conservation building in Collins Barracks.

Persian knife after conservation with details of the hilt before conservation

Objects examined, cleaned and conserved here include functional objects from the Art & Industry division which have been decorated or creatively designed. These objects fall into two categories: the machine made or hand crafted. From a simple cup to ornate iron gates, hand crafted edged weapons to mass produced telephonic equipment, both categories embrace a great range of products and items from the historic to the modern.

Indian sword before and after conservation

The studio handles a wide variety of materials from the inorganic such as metal, to organic plant and animal material and synthetic organics such as plastics. Work on these objects includes examination, cleaning, stabilization and in some cases “loss compensation” which is when a conservator adds modern material to fill structural gaps where original material is missing.  This type of conservation on objects for exhibitions or loans is called Remedial Conservation. To ensure that the stored collections are safely and suitably housed, Preventive Conservation is ongoing in the Museum’s storage areas. Conservators specify storage and exhibition conditions for objects composed of singular or composite materials with the view to slowing down or inhibiting their degradation.

Cleaning an electrotype reproduction by Elkington