Heritage Resources Management (HERM) 339

Conservation (Revision 3)

HERM 339

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Heritage Resources Management Studies home page

HERM 339 is not available for challenge.

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HERM 339: Conservation introduces formative issues and approaches in conservation practice.

This course focuses on the principles and practice of preventive conservation as they relate to collections of movable objects. It deals with the characteristics of collection materials and how these characteristics can help identify potential conservation problems. Conservation issues specific to certain types of collections are addressed, including archival, archaeological, natural history, and outdoor collections. The conservation of buildings is not covered except insofar as it must be taken into account in the conservation of collections in heritage buildings. The conservation of heritage sites and landscapes is not described. (Building, site, and landscape conservation will be covered in HERM 342: General Principles of Planning Historic Places.)

HERM 339 emphasizes a universal approach that will accommodate the needs of different collections. It focuses on basic, practical solutions that can be implemented by small organizations as well as by larger ones. The course also introduces extensive print and web-based publications geared to the custodians of heritage collections. This course will provide you with a body of knowledge that is relevant and useful to any person working within the broad area of heritage resources management, from archaeologists and historic interpreters to site managers and archivists. It will also serve as a solid foundation for anyone wishing to pursue specialized training in conservation. The goal of this course is to bring conservation awareness and knowledge to those who work—or intend to work—in heritage resources management.


HERM 339 is made up of ten units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Conservation
  • Unit 2: Materials Characterization: Introduction and Organic Materials Overview
  • Unit 3: Materials Characterization: Inorganic Materials, Modern Materials, and Composite Artifacts
  • Unit 4: Agents of Deterioration: Introduction, Temperature and Relative Humidity
  • Unit 5: Preventive Conservation: Light and Contaminants
  • Unit 6: Preventive Conservation: Pest Management, Fire Protection, Security, and Emergency Preparedness
  • Unit 7: Preventive Conservation: Display, Storage, Handling, and Transportation
  • Unit 8: Preventive Conservation: A Multi-level Approach
  • Unit 9: Conservation Treatments
  • Unit 10: Managing Conservation: Planning, Training, Documentation, and Policy


To receive credit in Herm 339 you must complete all assignments and achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). The chart below summarized course activities and the credit weight associated with each assignment.

Activity Weighting
0. Ungraded Assignment 0%
1. Identifying Materials 15%
2. Agents of Deterioration 15%
3. Pests 20%
4. Identifying Conservation Problems 10%
5. Conservation Assessment 40%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

All course materials for HERM 339 will be accessed online.

Textbooks/Resource Books

Robert Barclay. Introduction to Conservation. Athabasca: Athabasca University and Robert Barclay, 2008.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, April 11, 2013.

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