India has evidence of the existence of civilization debug back from very early times. The existence of remains of our culture surviving the vigorous of nature shows that our ancestors had developed the techniques not only for fabrication but also for its preservation. In some cases the preservation has been completely forgotten. Initially conservation and restoration was mainly in the hands of artists who were using materials without knowing the long term effect of the same on the culture which sometimes resulted in disasters. Eg. Application of Shellac on Ajanta paintings.
As we aware that conservation of cultural property is a fast developing field and now seems fairly well established. Conservation does not mean simply to preserve the objects of art but it includes scientific investigations of the materials and techniques used for works of art. This throws light on many aspects, for example, 1) Selection of proper methods of conservation, storage and display, 2) Understanding the mechanisms of deterioration processes, 3) Determination of provenance, authentication and dating, 4) Establishing ancient cultural relations and trades, etc. It is to mention that some State Museums and various conservation laboratories are opened with a view to that conservation should be properly grounded.
For Example : Indian Museums & Lab. & Madras Govt. Museum & Lab
Conservation research went on side by side, with actual conservation work with the development of methods, techniques, etc. It is to say that Electro chemical method for treatment of corroded bronzes is developed in Madras Govt Museum
The National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property (NRLC) was established in 1976 as a subordinate office of the Department of Culture, and was recognized as a scientific institution of the Government of India in 1987 by the Department of Science & Technology. The aims and objectives of the NRLC are to develop the conservation capabilities of different cultural institutions of the country, and provide services to museums, archives, archaeology departments and other similar institutions, in the conservation of cultural property. To meet the objectives, NRLC carries out following activities.
1. Research in materials and methods of conservation.
2. Training in conservation
3. Library& information services
4. Conservation Services, and
5. Technical advice in conservation.
A regional Laboratory (RCL) is functioning at Mysore, to render services on different aspects of conservation to cultural institutions in the Southern region of the Country.
As a part of the research activities of the laboratory, study of materials and technology of fabrication, authentication, etc., of different types of objects of cultural heritage is carried out. NRLC is fully equipped with instruments like XRF/XRD,SEM-Edax, AAS, Infra-red Spectrometer, HPTLC, Microscopes for Petrological & Metallographical studies, etc.