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Protecting art for the future

As stewards of the artworks in our care, SAM provides safe environments and treatments for a variety of mediums.


Neukom Conservation Studio

Seattle Art Museum

SAM’s first conservation studio, where we conserve and examine works of art from across the museum collection.

Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Conservation Center

Seattle Asian Art Museum

The only studio in the western US dedicated to the structural conservation of East Asian paintings, and one of only a handful in museums nationwide.

Conservation Team

Drawing on science, art history, and their investigation into each object, conservators collaborate with their colleagues across the museum to care for SAM's vast collection.


Conservators oversee conservation policy and determine and carry out conservation treatments.

Collection care

Collection care staff help to manage and monitor the gallery and storage environment to ensure works of art are displayed and stored safely.


Technicians assist with the execution of projects and manage framing and other activities that may affect the art physically.


Inside SAM’s Asian Painting Conservation Studio

Conservation guidelines

Preventative conservation

A seated figure seen from behind contemplates a gallery of sculptures in vitrines placed on top of pedestals at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

The safety of works of art is enhanced by a suitable environment. SAM's galleries are carefully managed to provide a responsible and environmentally sustainable museum environment for the collection.

Light Protection
Though Seattle only gets an average of 71 sunny days per year, daylight and artificial lighting can cause severe, irreversible damage to sensitive materials. We restrict the amount of light that falls on these works of art and also rotate them regularly to reduce long 
light exposure.

Air Quality Protection
Pollutants and soiling from dust, handling, and the atmosphere can damage art, making regular attention to art on display a necessity when the museum is closed to the public. We monitor the air quality, control all fabrication and construction materials used in the museum, and work with exhibition designers to provide protective casework and displays.

Pest Protection
Cellulose, wool, some colorants, wood, and other organic materials are attractive food sources for many insects and other pests. SAM conservation staff are vigilant about avoiding, monitoring, and recording pest activity. Since many materials such as art, display items, or floral installations come in and out of SAM every week, we have procedures to manage organic matter entering the galleries.


A conservator on a forklift applying a protective coating to "Echo" by Jaume Plensa at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Each year, many works of art require conservation treatment because they are physically unstable, in need of cleaning, or otherwise unsuitable for display. SAM conservators study each work of art and devise treatment approaches in consultation with curators, specialists, and external experts.

Display and Storage

Figures dispersed around the Porcelain Room, a display of floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall custom-mounted dishes and sculptures.

The art you see in the galleries at SAM is held in place by brackets crafted by our expert mount-making department. These custom-made mounts enhance presentation and keep art safe while on display or during an earthquake. Look closely at the 1,000 pieces of porcelain in the Wyckoff Porcelain Room ​to see an impressive and discreet demonstration of the mount-makers’ skills.

Thousands of stored artworks also need to be kept safe, and SAM collection care staff ensure that the storage furniture is optimal, and provide safe tie-ins, storage mounts, and enclosures for all the art that is not on display.

SAM Stories

Study the collection through the collaborative work of SAM conservators, artists, scientists, and curators.

Conservation resources

Getty Conservation Institute

Information on the Institute’s projects with extensive links to conservation resources and publications.

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)

Preservation topics, including finding a conservator and caring for your treasures.

Canadian Conservation Institute

News, guidelines, and publications for the conservation and care of collections.

Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN)

Information and support for new and early career conservators.

Western Association for Art Conservation (WAAC)

Our regional conservation organization.

Up Close with Conservators

Join SAM’s conservation specialists for the newest member-exclusive lecture series.

view program

Upcoming events

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Support Conservation

Precise treatments and expensive maintenance of a safe environment are vital for the preservation of irreplaceable artworks. You can steward this important work by supporting SAM.