Treatment Priority Categories

A glossary of conservation treatment priority categories.

1. Urgent

This material is in such poor condition that even careful handling would be unsafe. It should be treated immediately. This category might include objects with:

  • Extremely brittle or fragile paper supports, mounts, or backings.
  • Friable and/or flaking paints or inks.
  • Mold or mildew.
  • Damage resulting from a disaster such as a fire or flood.

2. Serious but not urgent

The safety of the object is in jeopardy, and its condition will become urgent if handled. If stored and not handled, treatment can be delayed until resources are available to send it to a professional conservator. This category might include:

  • Badly torn objects and brittle objects.
  • Objects with backing or mounts of inflexible, acidic, extremely brittle wood pulp board.
  • Objects with improper adhesives and pressure sensitive tapes that are causing discoloration or will become insoluble.
  • Books with broken bindings, detached leaves, or missing covers.

3. Requires treatment for long-term preservation

If stored properly with little handling, treatment of this material could be delayed. Treatment needs are basically for long-term preservation. These conditions might include:

  • Water soluble tapes that are not causing discoloration or planar distortion.
  • Mounts, backing, or window mats that, although somewhat acidic, are not causing discoloration, distortion, or immediate damage.
  • Surface dirt.
  • Minor tears.
  • Moderately acidic, discolored, or stained paper support.
  • Weak book bindings or detached boards.

4. Requires treatment for exhibition purposes

Placed in proper storage and housing conditions, this material can be safely studied and handled. It may, however, need some treatment if it is to be exhibited. These treatments might include:

  • Flattening of creases or cockled paper.
  • Inserting loss areas in the support with paper similar in appearance to the original.
  • Inpainting of missing design areas.
  • Additional stain reduction.
  • Consolidation and refurbishing of books with worn bindings.

5. Good condition

No treatment required at this time.