Preventive Conservation

Empleado del museo trabajando con una tablet sobre una obra

One of the main tasks of the Museum is to preserve the heritage for future generations and make it accessible to the public. For this reason, a preventive conservation programme is conducted as part of our daily schedule, allowing the Collections to be exhibited as the visitor finally confronts them. 

Preventive conservation is an interdisciplinary work involving the entire Museum team. It begins from the moment the transport of the work to the Museum is planned and includes all the actions that will, directly or indirectly, extend the life of the Collection, respect the integrity of the work and allow access to it. 

With its participation in the Preventive Conservation 2 project, in 1999 MACBA adopted an implementation and awareness plan on preventive conservation that is now part of the normal protocols of the Museum. 

The moment a work arrives in the Museum, a report on its state of conservation is compiled, accompanied by detailed photographic documentation, indicating whether it is necessary or not to carry out a condition or conservation-restoration intervention. Likewise, the environmental, storage and presentation conditions required by the work are established. 

Conservation-restoration processes

The incorporation into artistic production of industrial materials such as plastics, household objects, even foodstuffs, sometimes combined with more common artistic techniques, to a greater or lesser extent gives contemporary art a certain fragility. In addition, new means of expression such as photography, film, video and digital media have brought new challenges to conservation-restoration, since besides safeguarding the materials, it is necessary to find the ideal way for the work to be reproducible in the long term. 

Thus, in cases where action is called for, the necessary conservation-restoration interventions are carried out in accordance with the precepts of respect for the integrity of the work and of minimal intervention. These interventions are performed by specialists in object-installations, two-dimensional and paper works and archival materials, as well as media art. However, due to the great diversity of morphological and constitutive characteristics presented by contemporary artworks, on many occasions the study and the execution of an intervention requires the participation of diverse specialists, even from outside the field of conservation. 

Before any intervention, it is essential to carry out an exhaustive study of the work and of the artist’s oeuvre in general. Therefore, the dialogue with the artist, or in their absence with the person closest to the work, constitutes an essential source of information for the conservator-restorer of contemporary art. 

Case studies

MACBA has conservators-restorers in the specialities of painting, sculpture, installation, work on paper, graphic and archival material, and media art. However, the intrinsic characteristics of the works often make it necessary to undertake conservation-restoration processes in collaboration with specialists in other areas such as engineering, robotics, biology, chemistry, audiovisual reproduction media, etc.


The Digital Repository is responsible for the preservation, management and dissemination of the MACBA digital fonds, which includes photographs, audiovisual and sound recordings, graphic materials and documents, both originally digital or converted to digital for preservation and accessibility reasons. It is constantly growing thanks to the process of digitalisation of works and documents that are analogue in origin, new acquisitions and the Museum’s own activity that generates new content. The Digital Repository allows online access to some of the contents of MACBA’s artistic and documentary collection. To access all the contents of the Digital Repository, you can visit the MACBA Library. 

Explore the MACBA Digital Repository