Presenting... The Art of Conservation

A kingfisher that has been restored by the Museum's conservator

Presenting... The Art of Conservation



Presenting... The Art of Conservation is a new temporary exhibit at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Conservators play an important role in how we see things in museums. Without conservation work, priceless, rare, or extinct specimens and objects may fall apart, leaving little left for people to study or enjoy.

Natural history conservation is one of many fields of materials conservation. In a sense, it strives to do the impossible: to slow down the deterioration of specimens, keeping them in good condition in perpetuity.

The discipline combines science, heritage knowledge and a little artistry, often creating something that is in itself an interesting form of scientific art. Conserving our collections in this way also helps wider conservation efforts for wildlife, as well as natural, environmental, cultural, and built heritage.





A scalpel, modelling tools, forceps, dissecting tools, and an air puffer

Conservator's tools


A bronze-coloured model of an ammonite, and its casting mould, made by our Earth collections conservator

A model of an ammonite and its casting mould

A taxidermy hummingbird that has been preserved by one of our Conservators

A taxidermy hummingbird


The Museum's Life and Earth Collections each have a dedicated conservator with specialist skills in remedial and preventive conservation work. Remedial conservation includes everything from basic cleaning and repairing to reconstruction, in-painting, and in some instances moulding and casting a replica of an original piece. Preventive conservation considers environmental conditions, packaging and materials, and limits damage from pests.

A golden rule for natural history conservators is that anything we put on a specimen or object must be reversible later if needed.

Visit the display to view some of our conservators' beautiful specimens and find out more about their work...



Map showing that the presenting case is just to the left, next to the help desk, as you enter the Oxford Natural History Museum through the main door.

You can find the Presenting Case next to the Welcome Desk; just to the left as you enter the Museum through the main entrance.