The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte presides over holdings of some 340,000 archaeological objects from Europe, the Mediterranean region, the ancient Near East, and Central Asia, as well as from the Far East, ranging in date from the Palaeolithic age to the late Middle Ages.
The collection’s turbulent history continues to affect its conservation activities. A particular recurring problem faced by conservators is the effects of the Second World War, with scores of objects destroyed or burnt as a result of the bombing of Berlin. Inorganic material groups such as iron, bronze, pottery, and glass (of objects both currently on display and in storage) form the focus of conservation and restoration efforts. The high volume of loans lent to borrowing institutions demands that casts be made of especially fragile archaeological objects.
The ongoing cooperation with the Berlin Monument Authority (Landesdenkmalamt) means that the museum is also responsible for conservation treatments for new local finds. The x-radiography facility in the museum’s conservation studios is particularly useful for the technical analysis of larger pieces of archaeological metalwork, but is also used by other collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, for example in authentication studies. An additional specialism of recent years has been the implementation of such projects as 'Damascene Work of the Merovingian Period' and numerous analyses of objects made of copper alloys and precious metals to learn more about the fabrication techniques that went into their making. Other tasks for conservators include the climate control and care of objects currently held in storerooms and in permanent and temporary exhibitions, and of loans lent across the Staatliche Museen, as well as the training of conservation science interns.