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What is Preventive Conservation? - Precomos - Preventive Conservation, Maintenance and Monitoring of Monuments and Sites

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Precomos: Preventive conservation,maintenance and monitoring of monuments and sites

What is Preventive Conservation?

Similarly to preventive medicine practices, preventive conservation of monuments and sites can be defined by three classes of prevention:

  1. Primary prevention: means to avoid the causes of the unwanted effect (damage);
  2. Secondary prevention: means of monitoring that allow an early detection of the symptoms of the unwanted effects (damage);
  3. Tertiary prevention: means that allow avoiding further spread of the unwanted effect (damage) or the generation of new unwanted (side) effects (damage).

A systematic condition surveying as carried out by Monumentenwacht in Flanders and in The Netherlands is an example of a secondary prevention measure; it induces activities as small maintenance interventions that can be considered tertiary prevention measures aiming at avoiding further damage propagation.  The same survey helps identifying the causes of damage; it helps identifying proper ways to address remedial measures related to primary prevention. The latter may include maintenance activities that, considering the constraints of heritage protection should be the least invasive as possible and should assure that monitoring can be continued.

Preventive conservation of monuments and sites as an approach can be applied on the practice of various sub-field of the conservation of built heritage. Please see the brief introduction of preventive conservation from the following files: 

Current Preventive Conservation Approach: the PRECOMOS UNESCO Chair’s perspective (EN), presentation at Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA

La conservation préventive: une méthodologie d’approche basée sur le monitoring (FR), presentation at l´Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium


Register as a Member to the PRECOMOS Website

In order to extend the knowledge on prevetive conservation, we kindly invite you to join the PRECOM³OS network and register as a member to this website. Simply by filling in your information, your membership will be activated with full access to the information available in the PRECOM³OS network. As a memeber you can actively contribute and discuss on an online platform for preventive conservation practices and share your files as library items.