A typical dictionary definition of the word restoration goes something like this, "the act or process of returning something to its earlier good condition". But restoration, and conservation, of museum artifacts goes much further than simply returning an artifact to its "earlier good condition".

Robert Mikesh was a former Senior Curator at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution in Washingtion D.C. For more than 21 years, Mikesh managed the restoration of the world's largest collection of historic aircraft and was one of the most highly qualified and experienced experts in the field of aircraft restoration. In his book, Restoring Museum Aircraft, Mikesh taks about the need "... to preserve, intact, existing fabric and other materials." He says that "In making the specimen 'like new' we can destroy the research value of the specimen. ... The general tendency ... to 'restore' vintage aircraft to like-new condition should be resisted at all costs." Restoration and conservation can be the same thing, but restoration is generally more extensive and more intrusive than conservation, and more time consuming.

Volunteer restoration technicians working on the North Star, have experienced conservation staff close at hand to ensure that the Museum's Canadair North Star 17515 is restored and conserved for posterity. The Museum's conservator, Réjean Demers, wrote in his artice Zen and the Art of Aircraft Restoration, that North Star 17515 is more than "just an object". He explained that "Beyond these material trappings, lay the history of Canadair North Star 17515 and her sisters. Examples of service are easily found in books and photos. What proves a challenge is explaining how a bumblebee becomes a preserved specimen in an engine, how graffiti made during heavy maintenance is the only evidence of a man's past. Where the dirt under floorboards, came from countries that no longer bear the name she visited."