The Center for Research on Preservation (known by its French initials, CRC) is a research and services unit that falls under the joint umbrella of the CNRS (France’s national scientific research council), the French National Museum of Natural History and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It specializes in research aiming at the preservation of cultural property.

The unit comprises some fifty scientists – chemists, physicists, biologists, art historians and science and technology historians – working in three different locations. Their work focuses not only on objects held in museums, archives and libraries, but also on historical monuments, and aims, in particular, to deepen our understanding of the materials found in heritage items and to study the processes of decay that such materials undergo, as well as to develop preventive and curative preservation techniques.

This unit – unique in the international arena of cultural property conservation – was created through the amalgamation of the Center for Research on Preservation of Collections (of the National Natural History Museum in Paris), and the scientific team from the Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (located in the Château de Champs-sur-Marne) in 2012 and that of the Museum of Music (housed in the Cité de la Musique in Paris) in 2014.

Over and above their respective fields of activity, these three teams take advantage of their complementarity and seek to establish common approaches to analytical methodology and instrumentation, biodeterioration, color, coatings, wood and structures. This novel way of working has enabled concerted action and joint participation in various European projects, LabEx PATRIMA, LabEx MATISSE and EquipEx PATRIMEX, which thus equipped the unit with mobile on-site non-invasive analytical apparatuses, including a portable laser platform (LIBS Raman/LIF, FLIM, OCT, terahertz imaging, hyperspectral camera, micro X-ray diffraction, etc.).

The CRC comes under the administration of two CNRS institutes: its primary affiliation is to the Institute of Human and Social Sciences (INSHS in its French initials) and its secondary affiliation is to the Chemical Institute (known as the INC). It also plays an active role in training cultural heritage scientists as well as offering research-based teaching by hosting Masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students.

The CRC consists of 3 teams :