After the initial emphasis on resolving emergencies and launching the site-wide conservation campaign, the Herculaneum Conservation Project has gradually been able to place increasing emphasis on to how to act in order to optimise the results of the conservation work in terms of technical quality, long-lasting impact and use of resources. This has resulted in three priorities:
- a more structured approach to data collection with regard to mapping decay issues;
- the improvement of conservation practices by better understanding original techniques and materials through a scientific research programme in collaboration with external partners;
- research into solutions and approaches to specific problems that can be re-applied and the development of model interventions.
This body of knowledge is essential for being able to make better decisions in terms of materials and conservation methods, experimenting with new technologies and undertaking technical trials. Scientific research provides the Herculaneum Conservation Project with a knowledge base on which to decide which methodologies are compatible with the original materials, to draw up strategies for long-term maintenance, to predict what might be possible forms of decay in the future and as a result to understand what are the ideal conditions for the maintenance and continuous care of the site.
Finally, the Herculaneum Conservation Project has given a number of interns the opportunity to carry out new research projects on subjects that the project itself may not necessarily have addressed but which will integrate with and strengthen its overall impact. Following the publication of an announcement of the internship programme organized with the Herculaneum Centre, several research internships were offered to candidates whose proposed projects were complementary with the objectives of the conservation project and whose research would benefit from Herculaneum’s stimulating context.