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Icon welcomes individuals and organisations from all backgrounds who identify with the conservation and preservation of our cultural heritage.  Our membership embraces the entire conservation community as well as members of the public who are keen to learn more or show their support for conservation work.

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Icon is the UK’s leading voice for the conservation of our precious cultural heritage. We raise awareness of the cultural, social and economic value of caring for our heritage and champion high standards of conservation.

Icon is registered as a Charity in England and Wales (Number 1108380) and in Scotland (Number SC039336) and is a Company Limited by Guarantee, (Number 5201058).

The support of our members, partners, donors and sponsors is critical to our ability to represent the conservation profession and those who support our aims.

It brings together over three thousand individuals and organisations. Its membership embraces the wider conservation community, incorporating not only professional conservators in all disciplines, but all others who share a commitment to improving understanding of and access to our cultural heritage.

The UK has a unique and privileged position, with an abundance of buildings and objects made in the British Isles over the centuries, as well as major public collections of artefacts from every civilisation known to the world.    


The Institute's Aims

The Institute aims to advance knowledge and education in conservation and achieve the long term preservation and conservation of cultural heritage. It does this by providing guidance, advocacy, training and education opportunities and by uniting the conservation profession and the wider heritage community.

Heritage may be anything from a major collection or building of international importance managed by a national institution, to a single item cared for by a member of the public. Examples might include: a rare book in a public library; the contents and architectural features of an historic house; the vast collections of records in the National Archive; a statue on a village green; a treasured photograph of a your great-great grandmother, or the stained glass and memorial inscriptions in a place of worship.

The Institute

  • promotes the long term preservation and conservation of cultural heritage
  • advances knowledge, education, training and research in conservation
  • sets, monitors and promotes high standards of care and conservation of heritage
  • raises public, professional and political awareness of the importance of caring for heritage
  • responds effectively to the needs of the general public, those responsible for managing heritage, clients and other stakeholders
  • supports a range of activities, publications and services of continued interest to members
  • provides sector-wide information as a basis for policy research and development
  • represents the public interest and the conservation community on issues of concern across the wide range of heritage conservation sectors and disciplines.

                                                   zwagerman small                                                                                 

About conservation

Our collective cultural heritage is an irreplaceable and treasured resource, whether it is in the public domain or in private hands. Its conservation demands the skills not only of professional conservators but also of scientists, engineers, technicians, curators, educators, advisors, volunteers and many others.

'Conservation' means the preservation, protection, care and restoration of our cultural heritage. The UK has a well-deserved international reputation in this field. Conservation makes an essential contribution to the whole of society, to education, to the advancement of knowledge, to tourism and to the economy; it ensures that our shared heritage is cared for and protected for the benefit, use and enjoyment of the public today and for generations to come.

Conservators are highly-qualified people with standards of education, training and professionalism among the most advanced in the world. They have responsibilities towards objects of public or personal significance from the past – a building, a book, a piece of jewellery, a steam engine, a painting, a christening dress or perhaps a treasured photograph.

Conservators combine their knowledge of the most up-to-date science with an understanding of the properties of materials and construction techniques to determine the best means of conservation of these objects. Aesthetic awareness is also essential – conservators use their knowledge of art history, architecture, changing fashions and lifestyles to understand the context of the objects they work with, and to conserve them sensitively and appropriately.


Icon operates:

The Conservation Register the database of expertise in conservation and restoration in the UK. To find a conservator go to or phone +44 (0) 20 3142 6786.

The Conservation Awards. Supported by Sir Paul McCartney, these celebrate excellence in conservation projects, and include the Student Conservator of the Year Award, the Care of Collections Award, the Award for Conservation, the Anna Plowden Trust Award and the Digital Preservation Award. See the winners of the 2005 Awards here.  

Icon is currently undertaking a review of the Conservation Awards and hopes to announce details about the next round by the end of 2009.

PACR Accreditation
This is the principal professional qualification in conservation-restoration, denoting that the accredited practitioner is a fully-qualified and capable professional. Read more


Background to the Institute'’s formation

The Institute was created in 2005 by the merging of the following organisations: the Care of Collections Forum, the Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC), the Photographic Materials Conservation Group, the Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration (SSCR) and the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (UKIC). Convergence was fostered by the National Council for Conservation-Restoration, which has now been disbanded.

All photographs on this page are taken by Matt Wreford

The material on this website is accumulated from numerous sources.  The Institute of Conservation recommends users of this website to take professional advice before acting on anything contained here or in websites or publications linked to or referred to herein and accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may result from any use of this website or the websites or other sources of information to which this website links or refers or which may occur during private contractual arrangements.

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© 2015 Icon - The Institute of Conservation. Icon is registered as a Charity in England and Wales (Number 1108380) and in Scotland (Number SC039336) and is a Company Limited by Guarantee, (Number 5201058)
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