The Code of Ethics  

Both the protection and the authentic preservation of the cultural heritage have gained more importance in the last few years. The society rightously raises the demand for guarantees which provide that throughout the applied treatments the authenticity, the value and the aura are preserved, thus the material and cultural heritage are expected to be entrusted to a properly qualified restorer. The profession of restoration is scientifically defined, its methods are elaborated and is educate at art universities.

The restorer is neither a craftsman nor a liberated artist who dwells on creating new works of art or spend his/her sparetime repairing those. The restorer is a professional expert who takes all the efforts to preserve and transmit the cultural heritage promoting its understanding with respect to its aesthetic and historical importance, physical integrity, which is a task demanding responsibility and high ethical standards.

Throughout his/her work the restorer has the responsibility not only for the cultural heritage or to its owner or legal holder but also to the original author or creator, the public and posterity. Therefore, the restorerís work is to be done openly, that is the restorer, and if necessary, the contribution of other experts is required and is to be accepted. The restorer uses bibliographic, iconographic, cultural historical, manufacture technological, photographic materials and archives, as well as, in case of damaged work of art, the restorer uses the results of chemical, physical and biological laboratory examinations concerning the nature of their genuine materials and applies special devices, materials and chemicals. The restorer prepares a restoration plan, implements the intervention and the treatment on the work of art, which is to be documented at every phase. The restorer may undertake work from public and private institutions or private individual on his/her own right or as a proprietor, associate proprietor or employee.

The work of the restorer is mainly determined by the Code of Ethics, which helps him/her to act in accordance with the accepted guidelines and methodology and to keep to those. Should the restorer act in any other way, the rules and regulations of statutory provision will define and be binding for him/her what she/he can or cannot do. Nevertheless, it is not desired as the treated objects are unique and irreproducible. On the other hand, the restoration profession constantly develops and advances and strict bureaucratic regulation would hinder its improvement.

That is the reason why it is essential for this profession to define clear, comprehensive and unambiguous principles and to ensure that these principles are taken into consideration and are followed by those who participate in the preservation and transmittance of the cultural heritage.

Our Code of Ethics primarily concerns the definition of the restoration profession, but it necessarily regards questions of economic, work instruction and legal matters, as well. While compiling it, the recent national and European improvement of the profession were taken into consideration.

The Code of Ethics that contains the guidelines elaborated by the Ethical Committee was accepted by the Committee on 19th January 1997 and discussed in public on the XXII National Restoration Congress on 29–30th January 1997. This serves as a regulatory framework to guarantee the quality of intervention and as a point of reference in case of debate between restorer and client or restorer and the public. The guidelines take the continuous development of the profession into consideration, thus they are to be reconsidered and revised from time to time.

1. The basic principle of the restorer is the respect for the cultural heritage. His/her professional activity (including protection from deterioration and from further damage) is determined by the effort to preserve the aesthetic, historic and physical integrity of the work of art and by the respect for its author.

2. It is to the restorerís own interest to follow with attention the latest development of the profession and to improve his knowledge and skills in order to be ready to provide the most appropriate conservation treatment.

3. The restorer is to make the decision about the treatment or about its extent in agreement with the client, experts and the owner. Insufficient financial resources may limit only the extent of the treatment; the necessity of undertaking a conservation project can not depend on the value of the object in question or on the fee of the restorer. The quality of the intervention of the restorer is above discussion.

4. It is the restorers responsibility to carry out all his/her interventions according to his/her best qualifications and expertise, as far as possible. In case a restorer lacks the necessary experience to undertake a treatment she/he is to consult an expert, or recommend an experienced, more equipped professional. If a restoration project covers different fields of activity the restorer is allowed to involve (with the consent of the client) competent colleagues. The restorer is personally responsible for providing sufficient safeguards for the welfare of the object entrusted to his care even when it is under the treatment of his/her colleagues or someone else.

5. In case a restorer wishes to work in a field that is beyond his/her qualification his/her competence is to be judged by professionals. If competent authorities disapprove of the restorers intervention, his undertaking the work is not admissible, despite the clients eventual consent. In such a case the moral responsibility falls entirely on the restorer, and the guidelines of the restorers Code of Ethics are to be followed.

6. The restorer is always to take into consideration the advice of colleagues and others who bear responsibility for the object, and is to inform the client about the recommended treatment. The client should never be misled regarding methods, costs and duration of the intervention.

7. The restorer should be convinced that the conservation process and applied materials are at the highest standards of the profession and will not interfere with future examinations, analysis or (if at all possible) treatment of the object.

8. The restorer is to strive to respect any kind of alteration that an object of art can undergo throughout its life-time. Recovering the original surface of the object is advisable, if the added layers from different periods which cover it have less artistic-historic value. Any decision concerning removal has to be preceded by thorough evaluation and consultation with experts.

9. The restorer cannot propose or carry out any operation that might be dangerous for the preservation, conservation and restoration of the object. He has the right to refuse any request which he believes harmful, even if it is expressed by the client himself, because ultimate responsibility falls on the person who carries out the intervention, and not on the one who had asked for it.

10. The fee of the restorer should be in conformity with the restoration project he is to assume. He must not ask for a sum which is out of the professional standards of practice.

11. The restorer is to strive to apply only reversible treatments and materials. If the preservation of an object can only be guaranteed by an unreversible procedure, it is also admissible.

12. If during treatment, the restorer comes to the decision that a different type of intervention could be more appropriate and efficacious for the object in question, he must immediately inform the client. The conservation project can be continued after common agreement is achieved regarding the proposal.

13. The restorer is to work to the highest standards of the profession but he is never responsible for the artistic quality and materials of the recuperated object.

14. Only restorers who have the necessary expertise should express opinion concerning the authenticity and the artistic quality of a work of art, but they should never estimate market-value.

15. Once the conservation treatment is completed it is the restorers duty to fully inform the client about the optimum conditions regarding preservation and continuous care of the object.

16. All examinations, treatment and materials applied are to be thoroughly documented in order to ensure their transmission for future restorers.

17. The restorer is to maintain a spirit of respect for his/her clients and for those who work with him/her she/he should acknowledge their professional skills by rendering his/her studio public for colleagues in order to disseminate experience and information.

18. The restorer takes responsibility for the protection of information regarding the client, the owner or the work of art itself, and for not revealing it without the clients permission.

19. The restorer should never involve the public in any professional debate. Errors and mistakes are to be handled first on a personal level. When a restorer considers the intervention of any member of the Association unethical she/he can send a detailed description of the case to the Committee. What should be handled as secret will be determined by the circumstances.

20. The restorer is free to express his/her opinion regarding the professional activity of a colleague when this is required, paying only attention to the object and if it does not damage the interests of the profession and those of his/her colleagues.

21. In case of a professional debate between a restorer and a client they should turn to expert restorers. Regarding the quality of an intervention the opinion of three experts is to be considered: one is to be chosen by the restorer, one by the client and the third is nominated by the previous two.

22. Before taking over a restoration project from a colleague the restorer must make sure that the contract of the former restorer has legally ceased and the parties are unwilling to continue the legal relationship. The entire fee can not be devided, but the former restorer is to be paid for the work completed by him/her.

23. The restorer is to strive to promote a deeper understanding of the aspects of conservation restoration among the public and his/her clients, and to contribute to the development of the profession by the publication of his methods and results and by exchange of information in order to render his awareness of the responsibility towards the preservation of our cultural heritage evident.

24. The restorer, even if she/he is a member of the Association, should not express opinion on behalf of the Chamber of Hungarian Restorers.

25. Every restorer should contribute to the promulgation of the guiding principles laid down in the Code of Ethics and to the control of their observance.

Budapest, 1997. január 30.