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In this chapter some general remarks dealing with cleaning, consolidation and protection will be given, in order to make the reader aware of the “practical” operations occurring during conservation and restoration. This contribution serves thus as a basis before introducing, in the following chapters, the new materials developed by nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Some main principles concerning meanings, purposes and strategies of both conservation and restoration will be enunciated in the first part, highlighting the difference between these two terms. The chapter will then treat the two fundamental rules of scientific conservation and restoration: reversibility and physic-chemical compatibility. These two meaningful guidelines will be discussed in detail, showing how the history of the last 50 years of conservation and restoration evidenced the importance of taking into account both rules, emphasizing compatibility against reversibility. In particular, the physico-chemical compatibility of new materials with respect to original artworks materials will be highlighted as a new and modern golden rule. The chapter concludes by stating some general criteria for modern conservation and restoration, individuating in materials science and materials chemistry the research fields with strong potential to develop new art-compatible materials, and widely discussing some possible new educational profiles to inform conservation scientists to face the challenges of the third millennium in the field of science and technology as applied to the world's cultural heritage.

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