Our work

The Institute of Conservation is a charity and the professional body for conservation, seeking to create positive change for cultural heritage

Our members

As of 2020, Icon has 2,548 members, 772 Accredited Conservator-Restorers and 475 volunteers, working across the Public Sector (e.g. museums, archives, libraries), the Private Sector - with with 1/3 self employed and over 50 % in microbusinesses (<10 employees) - and the Third and academic sector (e.g. trusts and university departments).

These members participate in 16 Special Interest Groups and 8 Networks and while most work across the UK, our international influence is expanding - with 17.5% of our membership located abroad.

Find out more and become an Icon member.

Our key activities are set out in our Strategy

Advocacy: influencing our partners and the public

  • enhancing our visibility with government and policy makers 
  • responding to consultations 
  • undertaking fresh research 
  • designing campaigns to engage partners and the public

Engagement: public awareness and participation

  • tailoring membership offers 
  • engaging with emerging professionals
  • collaborating with partners to diversify workforce  
  • promoting benefits of conservation to society and wellbeing

Excellence: building knowledge, high standards and valuing the profession

  • accrediting professional conservators developing our standards 
  • managing a highly regarded internship programme 
  • delivering professional development programmes 
  • running regular events 
  • sharing publications

Advocacy - Championing conservation and the profession

We’re all about creating positive change:

Advancing knowledge and understanding

Framing policy debates and getting issues on the agenda

Affecting language, rhetoric and endorsements

Influencing actions and implementation of policy


How do we achieve this?

  • Policy responses, meetings, briefings, letters, reports, factsheets, newsletters to increase awareness and encourage a favorable regulatory and funding environment
  • Stakeholder maps, working groups, collective papers, partnerships, collaborations to generate more engagement and better advocacy and create a more widespread understanding and appreciation
  • Policy Advisory Panel, research reports, case studies, newsletters, news stories to rally greater support for a higher quality of practice

Excellence - celebrating success in education

Over the years, over 180 emerging conservators have kickstarted their careers in conservation through an Icon Internship. Our internships offer an invaluable opportunity for interns to develop their careers, engage with professional networks and develop practical knowledge.

Also, since 2017 Icon has played a leading role in the development of Apprenticeship Standards for the profession. Icon convened and supported a representative employer group to design programmes that matched real job roles and skills requirements. In 2019, the Institute of Apprenticeships approved the Cultural Heritage Conservation Technician and Conservator Apprenticeships.

Find out more about our internship programme and work on apprenticeships.

Key documents