The conservation laboratory of the National Museum has made immense efforts to become one of the most superior laboratories in the conservation and restoration of art objects. Initially, its main task was to look after the large collection of the National Museum, but now it also serves other institutions such as the Raj Bhawans and other public agencies in identification examination. It also performs actual restoration on oil paintings and art works. Besides keeping the vast and varied collection in a good state of preservation as per international standards the laboratory engages in research and capacity building programmes also.
The laboratory carries out regular surveys of art objects of different departments, and gives treatment on a priority basis to the objects that need it. Materials of a delicate nature such as palm leaves, parchment, paper, miniatures, painting, textiles and oil paintings as well as harder substances such as metal and their alloys, stones, terracotta’s, ceramics and wall paintings are treated according to the internationally accepted principles of conservation. Some of the major conservation projects being currently undertaken include:
- National Project of restoration of oil paintings of non- Indian origin and other works of art: The project was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India in 1985. They carried out survey’s, documentation and conservation of the oil paintings and other artefacts of non – Indian origin in various Raj Bhawans and havelis. This body was later strengthened by two or more centres – one at National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow and another at Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta.
- Conservation of Wall Paintings at Jhala Haveli, Rajasthan: The laboratory took up the job of treating the wall paintings of Jhala Haveli, Kota, Rajasthan. The work has been completed successfully and these paintings, after mounting, were displayed in the galleries of the National Museum.