Protecting from deterioration or loss highly valued or unique examples of local, national and global cultural heritage. Preservation work includes: the designating and restoring of national treasures; and protecting manuscripts, historical documents, architectural landmarks, fine art, decorative and applied art, and archaeological finds and sites. In some cases, persons with special skills are designated "living cultural treasures".
The preservation of historical and cultural treasures became widespread during the Renaissance at which time there was great interest in ancient art and collecting. Laws forbidding export of treasures were instituted first in Greece and later in Egypt and other countries, often after vast quantities had been transported to Western museums. Preservation of architectural landmarks becomes a public issue as urban areas undergo reconstruction.
Preservation work entails four major areas: research on the study, classification, cataloguing and listing of objects; legislation to designate an object as an historical or cultural monument or to protect it from destruction, alteration, or export; conservation and restoration work to return treasures to more original condition; and education of the public about historical and cultural treasures.
Through preservation, people can have tangible symbols of their past.
Vast amounts of money are overused on historical artefacts at the expense of preserving contemporary culture.