The Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro is a technical body of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activity and Tourism and pertains to the General Secretary. It is currently directed by the architect Gisella Capponi.
The ISCR was founded in 1939, based on a project developed by Giulio Carlo Argan and Cesare Brandi, to ensure that restoration activities would be carried out on a scientific basis and to unify the methods applied to works of art and archaeological finds.
The conservation courses of the Superior Training School for Restoration (SAF) started in 1944. Since 2006 its diploma has been equivalent to a degree course and similar to a US master’s degree. The competences gained during these courses are suitable for future restorers as reported in Legislative Decree No. 42 of 22 January 2004 “Code of the cultural heritage and landscape”.
ISCR can boast 5 departments (for conservation works on historical & artistic, archaeological and landscape & architectural heritage; teaching; data acquisition and documentation); 4 scientific laboratories (materials testing; chemistry; biology; physics & environmental monitoring); 13 conservation and restoration laboratories (paintings and plasters, wood, stone, leather, textile, metal (alloys), ceramics, glassware, ivories, glyptic and organic artefacts, paper and parchment, cast) and a team for underwater archaeological operations.
The current activities of ISCR are almost identical to those carried out when it was first established. Its approach is unique, whereby research, education, systematic, restoration activities and scientific experimentation take place at the same time. Therefore, its activities are interdisciplinary and all the aforementioned areas, which are involved in conservation, are linked.
Today the ISCR is Italy’s leading institution in international conservation-restoration programmes and is recognised for the high professionalism of its technicians.