Concerning the Ecce Homo by Borja, Spanish and Catalan Conservators Want to Report

This summer Spain has been in the limelight due to an improper intervention on a artistic work of art, executed by a painting amateur in good faith, but without the knowledge to carry out this task.

It has been a long time since we, conservators, have begun struggling for the correct conservation of our cultural heritage and today we are disconcerted as much by the constant loss that  e notice everyday (what happened in Borja is not an isolated example), as by the type of news the media have transmitted to the whole world. It is sad that the majority of our society underestimate our profession.

For this reason, we would first like to clarify who we are and what we do.

The conservator:

  • performs an activity of public interest
  • differs from other professionals by his/her specific
  • education in conservation of cultural heritage
  • is not an artist nor a craftsman

It is the professional that has the training and the experience to act on cultural heritage with the aim to preserve it for future generations, always according to the guidelines of an international code of deontology. Secondly, we want to report that neither the Spanish law of historical heritage, neither the laws of the different autonomies in Spain, guarantee the correct protection of our heritage. None of these laws recognises the figure of the conservator as the only one professional with the necessary competences to diagnose and take part in all that regards the conservation of cultural heritage.

In attempting to change this situation, we claim that:

  1. To guarantee the preservation of cultural heritage and its correct transmission to future generations our profession has to be regulated and recognised. Consequently the access and the exercise of the profession of conservator has to be governed by specific juridical norms and the professional title has to be clear-cut and recognised at State level.
  2. The conservators, through the professional associations, have to be represented in the consultative organisms at national and autonomic level, so that they can look over the good practice and correct conservation of cultural heritage.
  3. The system of professional and business qualifications for tenders and public bids have to be clarified, with standards specified to conservation. 4.  A register of qualified conservators needs to be created.

Tourism being one of the main economic dynamics on which our country has bet to get us out of the crisis, we conservators believe that this could and should have to be a sustainable and quality cultural tourism. To preserve a unique cultural heritage, to possess an excellent preventive conservation plan and to have the best specialists to take care of our cultural heritage should have been the headlines in the national and international media. Something does not work when it looks like
a joke and the more lousy the work is, the more rewarded it is when this should inspire shame and indignation. It is essential, for any country with values, to bet for quality in our work, carried out by qualified professionals. As we have understood
that the protection of the environment is of special importance for our quality of life, society also have to be conscious of the importance of culture and the worth of its correct conservation. And it is in this field where the conservator has a great role to play.  We have had enough of allowing unqualified people to work indirectly on our cultural heritage, Our heritage is in danger, lot’s save it.


Grup Tecnic
Associacio Professional dels Conservadors-Restauradors de bens culturals de Catalunya

Associacion de Conservadores-Restauradores de Espana

Associacio de Conservadors-Restauradors de Catalunya

Grupo Espanol de Conservacion. International Institute for Conservation

Agnes Gall-Ortlik
President of the Grup Tecnic