When dealing with an archaeological artefact, conservation must begin the moment it is unearthed. Exposure to the air creates a change in environmental conditions that will trigger processes of material degradation and deterioration. A restorer is always present during the archaeological excavations conducted by the Museum of Altamira, handling the extraction of fragile materials and applying the first preventive treatments.
Preventive conservation is an integral part of the museum's collection management policy, as it reduces potential risks and mitigates the negative effects of natural and anthropic factors on cultural assets. Measures such as controlling lighting and environmental conditions in the exhibition halls and storage areas, using display devices and supports that do not compromise the stability or physical integrity of the artefacts, designing special containers for pieces kept in storage, and drawing up emergency plans make it possible to extend the lifetime of sensitive materials without resorting to direct intervention.
The conservation of the cave of Altamira is one of the museum's top priorities. In its capacity as a research centre, the museum does important work to learn more about factors that alter the condition of rock art in general and the art of Altamira in particular. The museum also designs specific management systems for rock art in accordance with preventive conservation guidelines. For further information, see the Conservation of the cave section on this website or click on the following link: Research Project for Preventive Conservation and Accessibility at the Cave of Altamira