History of the Laboratory: With the valuable collection at the Government Museum, Chennai, it was felt necessary to treat the bronze icons disfigured by corrosive crusts in order to expose the decorative details and to eliminate the bronze disease, which brought in added deterioration. As a result of the discussion with various chemists, the electrolytic restoration of bronzes was started in the museum. The Chemical Conservation and Research Laboratory in the museum owes to the scientific vision and foresight of Dr. F. H. Gravely, Superintendent of the Government Museum, Chennai in the early 1930s. Dr. S. Paramasivan was appointed as the Chemist in 1930. He was very active both in conservation of cultural property and related research activities. Besides the treatment of bronze objects, ethnological, prehistoric and numismatic objects were treated. In 1935, the Government Museum, Chennai was also of help to the Archaeological Survey of India in the examination of wall paintings at Thanjavur, Sittannavasal etc.

In 1937, a separate Chemical Conservation Laboratory Block ( Old Chemistry Block ) was built, being the only one of its kind in India. A two storied building for the Laboratory was constructed in 1963 during the Curatorship of Mr.N.Harinarayana. During his time the Course on Care of Museum Objects was started for the benefit of those who work in museums and allied fields. He was Instrumental for outreach conservation activities, research and a course on Care of Museum Objects. For the first time in India the conservation Gallery was established in the rear hall of the Bronze Gallery Ground Floor in 1996 AD. In 1997 AD, the Chemical Conversation and Research Laboratory was recognised to conduct research leading to Ph.D Degree and the Curator of the Laboratory, Dr.V. Jeyaraj was recognised as a Research Supervisor by the University of Madras. Part-time and one full time scholars worked under him.

Conservation Research Activities: The Laboratory is interested in the conservation research in order to find out new techniques and materials in collaboration with leading research institutions such as Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam; Indian institute of Technology, Chennai; Anna University, Chennai and foreign institutions like the Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia. The Laboratory was recognised as a research institution in 1997 by the Madras University to conduct research leading to Ph. D. Degree. Dr. V. Jeyaraj, Curator of the Laboratory is a recognised research guide. Part time and one full-time research scholars were worked on research projects Viz. Conservation of Thanjavur Paintings, Wall Paintings, Technical Study of Chola Coins and onTextiles.

Publications: The publication of this Laboratory from its inception is commendable. Leading national and international journals such as Indian Academy of Sciences, The Current Science, Conservation of Cultural Property in India, Studies in Conservation, Technical Studies, etc., published the outcome of the research works of this Laboratory. Besides hundreds of research and popular articles, many books and bulletins have been published. Handbook on Conservation in Museums, Care of Museum Objects, Conservation of Archival Materials, An Introduction to the Chemical Conservation and Research Laboratory, Care of Archival Materials, Conservation of Temple Objects, Conservation of Cultural Property in India, Care of Paintings, care of Records, Authenticity in Artetc., in conservation; Heritage Management, Directory of Museums, Directory of Monuments and A Technical Study on the Coins of Arcot Nawabs are some of its publications. etc., and also many conservation reports have been prepared by the successive Curators regularly throughout the career of this Laboratory.

Training: In order to disseminate the expertise of the Laboratory, in 1974, a refresher course on Care of Museum Objects was started by Mr.N.Harinarayana the then Curator. Professionals and students of museology and related subjects received the training. Course on Care of Temple Antiquities for the Executive Officers of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, a course on Care of Archival Materials exclusively for the Archivists, a Course on Care of Library Materials for Librarians, a Course on Care of Art Objects exclusively for art students etc. Are conducted occasionally. Besides these, training programs to the school and college students are conducted both in Chennai and districts on Care of Cultural Materials and Preservation of Monuments. It has introduced internship training in Conservation for a period of one year. Apart from this, Chemical conservation section conducts internship training programs to the college students for one month. Every academic year Chemical conservation section offering the Internship training program to the Stella Maries College, Quaid-e-Millath Government college for women, Women’s Christian College, etc., regularly.

Conservation Services: The Laboratory is extending services to the public and other institutions interested in the preservation of objects of the past, on request, the Curator delivers lectures on conservation in order to popularise the subject.

Staffs: The Chennai Museum is a multidisciplinary museum having over two lakhs of objects and about 5% of them are in need of conservation treatment. Chemical conservation section has three staffs, the Curator, the Technical Assistant and the Lab Assistant (vacant).

Courses: Course on Conservation for Archaeologists, Museologists and officers of the Hindu Temples Administrating Departments (HR&CE ), run mainly with a view to providing an alternative to sandblasting as a method of cleaning walls and sculptures in Temples.

Manuscripts Conservation Centre: The National Mission for Manuscripts, New Delhi has established a Manuscripts Conservation Centre at the Government Museum from September 2004, then Dr. V. Jeyaraj, Curator, Chemical Conservation and Research Laboratory of this Museum was the Coordinator and Mr. R. Balasubramanian, Curator, Archaeology Section was the Co-coordinator. It conducted many workshops on Preventive Conservation of Manuscripts, Awareness Camps, Exhibitions, Special Lectures, and training programme, reorganizing the storage of manuscripts in institutions, which possess manuscripts, carries out both preventive and interventive conservation of manuscripts in institutions throughout Tamilnadu.