What we do

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 2022, Icon has approximately 2,300 members, including 700 Accredited Conservator-Restorers. Conservators, restorers and heritage scientists work in many different settings:

  • public sector e.g. national museums, archives, and libraries
  • private sector - where one third are self employed and more than half work in microbusinesses (<10 employees)
  • third sector e.g. small museums and heritage attractions
  • academic sector e.g. 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.

Icon Groups & Networks

Icon's Special Interest Groups support the development of the conservation profession and provide valuable learning and networking opportunities for Icon members.

Joining an Icon Group is one of the benefits of being an Icon Member. Each Group is dedicated to a different branch of the profession and has a committee which organises events, training and networking opportunities. Group membership brings you into contact with others who share your interests and offers a hands-on role in working for your profession. Icon Members are invited to sign up to two Groups of their choice, but they can attend any event organised by other Groups. 

Icon’s Networks provide the means for members to come together to consider cross-disciplinary topics, or to progress short-term or long-term objectives focusing on issues. There are currently eight Icon networks:

Championing 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
Careers and training

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.

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.


We also publish members' magazine Iconnect and the Journal of the Institute of Conservation:


Icon's magazine

Our magazine focuses on the people behind the projects, covering all aspects of cultural heritage conservation. It includes interviews, feature stories, regular columns, updates from our Groups and Networks, and much, much more

Journal of the Institute of Conservation

With international contributions on all aspects of conservation, the Journal of the Institute of Conservation is an invaluable resource for the heritage sector


Our Partners

Icon collaborates with others in the arts, cultural heritage and commercial sectors to deliver projects that will benefit the public​

Heritage Compass


Icon is proud to be taking part in the Heritage Compass programme. Launched by Cause4 in 2020, Heritage Compass is a new Business Support Programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This new programme has been designed to grow resilience and invigorate the heritage sector across England and is being delivered by Cause4 working in collaboration with consortium partners Creative United and the Arts Marketing Association.

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Fit for the Future

Icon is a member of Fit for the Future, an environmental sustainability network with over 100 charities, heritage organisations, cultural venues, public sector bodies and more in its membership. We facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration across organisations and sectors so that they can achieve the rapid and far-reaching changes needed to decarbonise, adapt to climate change and drive positive environmental impacts.


Climate Heritage Network

Despite profound connections between climate change and culture, today there are thousands of arts, culture and heritage actors and advocates whose talents have not yet been mobilized on climate change issues, including administrators, anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, artists, conservators, curators, engineers, historians, librarians, musicians, urban planners, site managers, as well as scientists, researchers, teachers and scholars and carriers of indigenous knowledge and local wisdom whose talents have not yet been mobilized on climate change issues.  This is so even in jurisdictions that have made ambitious climate action pledges via networks like the Under 2 Coalition.  The Climate Heritage Network aims to flip that paradigm.

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National Heritage Science Forum

Icon is a founding member of the National Heritage Science Forum (NHSF). NHSF is a membership organisation and registered charity committed to demonstrating the public benefit of heritage science, increasing public engagement with it and support for it. NHSF brings together the producers and users of heritage science to improve collaboration, help practitioners make better use of research, and demonstrate the public benefit of heritage science.

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Professional Associations Research Network

Icon is a member of the Professional Associations Research Network (PARN). PARN is a not-for-profit membership organisation for professional bodies, offering expertise, experience and perspective on key issues in the sector through research, bespoke services, networking, events and training. As a member of PARN, Icon is: committed to good practice; kept up to date on current research; part of a network of professional bodies that learn from and share with each other.

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The Heritage Alliance

Icon is an active member of The Heritage Alliance. The Heritage Alliance unites over 150 independent heritage organisations in England as a powerful, effective and independent advocate for heritage. As England’s biggest coalition of heritage interests The Heritage Alliance brings together large heritage organisations and a range of more specialist bodies representing visitors, owners, volunteers, professional practitioners, funders and educationalists.