The DIA Conservation Department examines works of art, treats condition issues, investigates artists’ materials and work methods, determines appropriate display conditions, studies potential acquisitions, establishes the design and construction of mounts for the safe display of objects, and conducts research related to artists’ materials.

A conservator wearing white headphones mixes up a small mound of gold paint next to a large painted work

Each of the conservation laboratories is unique in its specialty, but the range of art works treated in each lab is amazingly broad, reflecting centuries of artistic creation and many techniques and materials. Sometimes, traditional conservation boundaries intersect when a work of art requires the expertise of multiple conservation specialties.

Conservation Labs


The objects section is responsible for the care and treatment of all three-dimensional objects in the collection in a wide variety of materials, including stone, metal, wood, ceramic, glass, bone, plant fibers and plastics.

An object conservator at work on a large bone like item in the Conservation Lab
Conservators work on a larger than life painting with the use of a scaffold


The paintings section is responsible for care, research and treatment of paintings on wood, canvas, metal and a variety of other supports. The paintings represent a wide variety of cultures from around the world ranging in age from antiquity to the 21st century.


The preservation of art on paper includes prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs. These works on paper can range from European Renaissance drawings to contemporary prints, Islamic Qur’an pages and Asian screens and hanging scrolls.

Paper conservators closely examining a work on unfolded paper
A conservator working delicately on fabric


The textiles section treats a variety of artworks created with a wide array of materials, ranging from large flat objects, such as French eighteenth-century tapestries, to multidimensional pieces, like upholstered furniture and costumes.


The department photographer and imaging specialist documents the works of art throughout the conservation process using highly specialized equipment that captures different wavelengths of light, including visible, x-radiography, ultraviolet and infrared imaging.

Image of a conservator using UV light on Bruegel's The Wedding Dance
A ceramic piece being scanned by a tool

Scientific Research

The scientific research laboratory is equipped with analytical instrumentation for the investigation of the wide range of materials used by artists: pigments, binding media, metal alloys, fibers, photographic processes, glasses, ceramics, and more. The information gained informs the art historical understanding, care, and exhibition of objects in the DIA collection.

Mount Design and Fabrication

The mount designer and fabricator, working primarily in wood, metal and plastic, creates mounts for safely displaying the huge variety of artworks in the DIA’s collection ranging from complex 3-D objects to paintings.

A mounting specialist at work