This paper will consider the challenges a conservator faces within a contemporary art environment, using Tate as a case study. Tate’s collections, and in particular the artworks currently being collected and displayed at Tate Modern, will provide the context. The paper will give a broad outline of conservation at Tate and take a closer look at the role of the conservator when working with contemporary art at Tate. It will discuss how Tate conservators continually strive to identify, develop and maintain the skills required to perform their roles and argue that building and adapting knowledge is vital to meeting the challenges presented by the works within Tate’s collection and, more broadly, by contemporary art conservation. These challenges will be looked at in detail by focussing on two artworks: Babel, by Cildo Meireles (Tate T14041), acquired in 2013 and displayed in 2016; and African Adventure, by Jane Alexander (Tate T14629), acquired and displayed in 2016.
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