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AR/AH 312 - Repairing the Past: Conservation, Theory and Practice

This course proposes the illustration of the various approaches, techniques and ethical values involved in the process of conserving a work of art, from the archaeological object to monumental architecture. Through the illustration of the main traditional artistic techniques which will include: archaeological artefacts, stone masonry, mosaic, marble and bronze sculpture, fresco and easel painting, the course will focus on the physical complexity of an work of art and the different causes of deterioration of its constituent materials through time and environmental changes. Technical and practical aspects of conservation will be privileged topics, but attention will also be dedicated to the theoretical and historical aspects of the discipline. By tracing the main stages of the historical development of today’s preservation culture, the second part of the course will focus on the foundation of the ethical and scientific principles that govern today’s conservation decisions, policies and practices. All subjects discussed will be followed by field trips to conservation laboratories and examples of major works of art in Rome that have been recently restored. Conservation laboratory: During a specific practice seminar (16 extra hours, 1 extra credit), students will actively participate in conservation work on a worksite or on artefacts made available by the instructor and the Department of Antiquities. Artefacts can include: coins or metal objects, pottery, painted plaster (or fresco painting), sculpture and mosaics.

Course Information


Art History

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:

36 for the course, 16 additional for the lab


This course is recommended for students who already have a basic knowledge of western Art History from Antiquity to XIX century and have a major in Art History. Other students are welcome, but an extra effort – including additional reading – is required.

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