Title: A Conservator’s Perspective on the Approach to Historical Clocks
Author: Matthew Read    
Jounal: Chinese Annals of History of Science and Technology
YEAR: 2020
Vol.: 4
No.: s
Page: 39–60

This paper investigates a conservator’s approach to a particular subset of physical cultural property: clocks. It looks at established conservation frameworks and practical elements of codes of practice, and considers how the conservator’s perspective will differ from that of a peer engaged solely with an approach to static objects. The paper considers, through examples of historic technological development, how what we mean by “clock” and how we consider clocks are in a state of constant change of context. Clocks are a diverse group of objects, some of which are technically complex. The conservator must draw together many influences in order to demonstrate professional competence in thinking, delivering an accountable decision-making process. In order to illustrate the breadth of the challenge the conservator faces when approaching clocks, the paper gives examples of three contrasting case study objects including one automaton and one electromechanical model. Clocks as a group comprise multimedia and multimedium objects. The perspective of the conservator will draw on professional networks within and without the immediate field, including at times the work of philosophers, scientists, sociologists, and historians in order to maintain objectivity, inform and engender new ideas. The paper concludes with the statement that the perspective of the conservator engaged with clocks should never be fixed, and that solutions to the challenges presented by clocks are never absolute and never permanent, but are in constant context-driven flux.