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Established in 1984, the Conservation Department of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation now includes eight discipline-specific labs—Archaeological Materials, Wooden Artifacts, Instruments and Mechanical Arts, Objects, Paintings, Paper, Textiles, and Upholstery—as well as a Preventive Conservation group. The conservation labs and the Colonial Williamsburg collections, along with curatorial and registrarial offices, are housed in the DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building, a 75,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art structure completed in 1997. Creation of the facility was generously underwritten by the DeWitt Wallace Fund for Colonial Williamsburg.

The primary goal of the department is preservation of the cultural property represented by the collections of Colonial Williamsburg. This work is carried out by a staff of conservation professionals, interns and volunteers who, because of the purpose-built structure in which they work, have unique opportunities for multi-discipline interaction. Analysis, examination, treatment, and documentation are performed in strict accordance with the Code of Ethics of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works.