Restoration vs. Conservation
As the Horten Ho 229 V3 is a one-of-a-kind aircraft, all efforts are being made to preserve as much of the original material as possible. Ideas about aircraft restoration, and to what level or time period an aircraft should be restored to, are somewhat limited when considering the history of the Horten, primarily because it was never completed. Surface paints and various alterations have occurred to the jet over time, but to what degree should these be regarded as important historic alterations that are worth preserving?
There is inherent value in preserving as much of the original material as possible because these elements speak to material availability and choices of a certain time period. Regarding original materials as irrelevant, or too damaged to go on display, promotes the erroneous idea that authenticity and character can easily be replaced.
A full restoration of the Horten would need to consider how that level of intervention would affect its ability to represent the history that defines its significance and if removing its surface layers or patina would compromise its historic value. As museum professionals it is our responsibility to be mindful of how future generations will regard our decisions.
Goals of Conservation
The goal of conservation is to achieve an appearance illustrating a level of care deserving of a unique historic object. Various people will have differing ideas about how the Horten should be restored, though ultimately the decision lies with the curator. Future curators may have responsibility for this aircraft and may wish to see it brought to an appearance that suits the aesthetics of the time. Currently there is momentum in displaying aircraft that show their age in a respectable way, and the Horten falls squarely into this category.
The conservation approach will be one of materials stabilization. This approach will allow the artifact to be displayed essentially in its current state but with stabilized original material. If future changes are desired, the opportunity will be available.