The conservation treatment of an archaeological object requires a careful selection of methods that are proven to be most suited to the purpose. In some cases, traces of conservation treatment are deliberately left untouched so as to reveal to the viewer how the artifact has been treated for conservation.
Because the private collector wanted the piece to be preserved as if it had never been broken, the fragments were joined so that no traces of the restoration remained, and the missing sheep nose was restored to be indistinguishable from the original artifact. Furthermore, certain sections were color-matched as they had never been delaminated.
As can be seen from the post-restoration photograph, the seam where the original and newly-created part meet has not been altered, making the restoration easily distinguishable. Although the overall color of the original artifact and restored piece appears similar in the photo, the difference is obvious up close and in person.
Of course, not all artifacts need to be restored to the same standard. I hope, however, that the above information regarding the purpose of artifact restoration and the 30-centimeter rule was clear and easy to understand. When observing artifacts preserved in museums in the future, take a look and compare the original and restored parts from afar as well as up close and consider the process behind a conservationist's work to add another level of enjoyment to your visit.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM OF KOREA
※ The use of the above images has been authorized by the respective private collector (Mrs. Lyster Cooke, 2008; Restoration performed at West Dean College) and the British Museum (2009).