Object of the Maintenance Laboratory

The Conservation Laboratory of the Numismatic Museum deals with the conservation of coins, medals, lead seals, lead tokens, weights, talents, obols and semi-precious stones.
The main task of the Laboratory is the conservation of the Museum’s collections. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases, coins deriving from the excavations of the various Ephorates of Antiquities throughout the country are also treated.
Casts of coins or other specimens from the Museum’s collections are often produced and sent to other Museums or scholars for research purposes.

The Laboratory staff is also responsible for ensuring that the environmental conditions and the materials used in both storage and exhibition areas are the appropriate.
The continuous training of the staff and the participation in different research programs help to update and improve the methodologies applied.

During conservators’ leave, for educational purposes, colleagues have the opportunity to be informed, by the lab’s staff, upon conservation matters and practices being applied in the specific work place. Furthermore, conservation students are frequently hosted in order to complete their work placement.



The conservation process

The coins are photographed, weighted and examined under the stereomicroscope prior to conservation. This examination is crucial as it gives information on the condition of the coin, its production technology, the colour, texture and layering of the corrosion products. It also detects possible traces of fibres remaining on the coin’s surface. If it is necessary further examination is carried out applying analysis methods such as X-ray radiography.

The appropriate conservation method has certain ojectives depending on the kind of metal or alloy and the degree of deterioration of the object:

The main objectives of the process may include the preservation of the patina, the revealing of the original surface and the removal of specific or all of the corrosion products from the surface. Revealing the details of the relief is of particular importance for the identification of a coin by numismatists.

After treatment, the object is photographed and weighted. Last but not least, the documentation is carried out by filling in a conservation form. This includes the data of the object’s condition, the interventions that took place, the materials and suppliers used and the photographs taken before and after conservation treatment.