“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Leonardo da Vinci


Joseph T. Matteis, Jr., Conservator of Paintings and Murals

A Code of Ethics for the Conservation of Arts and Artifacts

Adapted from the Hippocratic Oath, © 1998 Joseph T. Matteis, Jr.

I SWEAR by Apollo,


and Athena, and Aphrodite, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation- to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of this Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by stipulation and oath to the ethical codes of the conservation of historic and artistic works, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of both arts and artifacts, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will neither harm nor alter original surfaces even if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not provide the means to commit forgery. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will abide by a single standard, and will not yield to commercial pressures nor the whims of art dealers, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of such work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go there for the benefit of historical preservation, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, both of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!