Preservationists have always struggled with how to preserve and repair aging art. In the days when China could only afford climate control for their storage areas, they had copyists who created copies of scroll paintings so precise that they would fool experts. That way the originals could spend most of the year in climate controlled vaults. The technology of using soot-based-ink and long fibered mulberry paper has allowed scrolls and screens from the 10th century to last until today. I remember being astonished as they Smithsonian curators described how they would steam the paper away and re-glue them with traditional rice starches.
Nowadays, most museums have state of the art climate control, but works still slowly decay. Old film degrades, grows brittle, some even becomes outrageously flammable! The question now is, how do we repair works that are already damaged? How can science sustain the soul of artists who left behind nothing of their lives but their art and how do we preserve these treasures?The new answer may lie with nano-bots, microscopic robots! Now how cool is that! http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nanoscientists-attempt-save-disintegrating-artworks