Реставрация произведений изобразительного искусства | Русский музей | Отдел реставрации музейных ценностей

Oil Painting Conservation Studio. 1950s. From left to right: Pavel Raikov, Ananii Brindarov, Nina Shaposhnikova, Samuil Konenkov, Irma Jarigina and Mikhail Markov

Art conservation is a set of practices aimed at preserving, stabilizing, and restoring objects of material culture. Restoration, often part of an art conservation plan, is a set of practices aimed at restoring a work of art to a condition as close as possible to its state immediately after creation.

Department Divisions:

 Oil Painting Conservation

 Mixed Media Painting Conservation

 Old Russian Painting (Icons) Conservation

 Paper Graphics Conservation

 Ceramic and Glass Art Conservation

 Metal Art Conservation

 Textile Conservation

 Carved Icon and Wooden Sculpture Conservation

 Gilded Wooden Carving Conservation

 Picture Frame Conservation

 Lacquered Furniture Conservation

 Plaster and Stone Sculpture Conservation

 Contemporary Art Conservation

 Scientific Research

 Conservation Cordination Center


Мастерская реставрации Русского музея в 1922 году

Restoration Studio. 1924.  From left to right: N.S. Blagoveshenskaja, I.J. Chelnokov, M.P. Pokrovskaja, M.M. Tiulin (?), A.N. Suvorova, A.V. Uhanova, J.I. Utkin. 

Since the museum was founded in 1898, the Russian Museum’s art collection has required continuous monitoring of its conservation state. By 1906, the question had already been raised about the need for the museum to establish a dedicated restoration studio that would be able to solve the pressing need to maintain the constantly expanding collection. During the period between 1906 and 1910, private restorer Alexander Boravsky put together his celebrated plan to create a conservation studio at the Russian Museum. Due to a lack of funds, however, it was not to be.

After the October Revolution of 1917, thousands of nationalized works of art from private collections and religious objects belonging to cathedrals and monasteries across Russia began to converge on the walls of state museums. The enlargement of collections and the creation of new departments that held pieces of various ages and materials were a reason for major museums of the country to organize conservation departments. In 1922, by a decision of the Council of the Department of Arts, such a studio was created at the Russian Museum. It was run by the experienced art conservator Nikolay Okolovich, an enthusiast of activities in the museum sphere. In order to restore various kinds of items for exhibition, he and his colleagues had to creatively rethink the traditional methods of the national school of art conservation, and create new methodology for the preservation of various materials. These years laid the foundation upon which all subsequent generations of conservators have built their work, transferring their knowledge and skills to one another. During the war years of 1941-1945, conservators, along with the rest of museum staff, actively participated in the evacuation of the museum’s works to Perm, where the main part of the collection was stored. Some staff members remained in blockaded Leningrad, where they monitored the building and the works of art that remained.

Реставратор живописи Орлов представляет картину Угрюмова в процессе реставрации

Conservation Council at the Oil Painting Conservation Studio. 1970

After the war, a new period began for conservation work and bringing the work into exhibition condition. The focus of art conservation department’s work became preserving works of art and preventing further damage. The staff of the department also participated in the recreation of new exhibitions. During the postwar period, the art conservation department’s work was concentrated on preservation and the conservation of artworks. In a number of cases, the old methods needed to be reexamined, especially regarding the conservation of Old Russian painting.

The museum’s wide-ranging expedition activities in the 1950s drastically increased the size of the collection. The scientific study of the new acquisitions, the accumulation of information and analyses, and the necessity of broadening knowledge about materials and the execution of conservation techniques led to a differentiated approach to the study and preservation of the pieces. A result of this process was the goal of having conservators with narrower specializations. At the beginning of the 1950s, the conservation department was divided into new subdivisions. Thus, the Studio for Graphic Restoration (1953) and Old Russian Painting Restoration (1954) were created. At the beginning of the 1960s, the wooden sculpture, decorative carving and furniture department and the textile workshop were created. In 1969, an independent workshop for the restoration of plaster and stone sculpture was created.

Реставрационный совет Русского музея по графике | Реставрационная комиссия

Conservation Council at the Paper Conservation Workshop. 1976

In later years, new workshops and studios were created, in particular, the division of Conservation of Applied Arts (1970), which works with ceramics, glass, and metal pieces; and the Frame Restoration Workshop (1981). The studio for paintings in mixed media was made into its own division (1990). This process continues to the present day. Aiming toward a complex study of the works and the reveal of its characteristic peculiarities on the one hand, and the emergence of new technology and methods of scientific research based on the latest scientific achievements on the other led to creation of Physics and Chemistry Laboratories in 1970. These divisions became bases for analysis and scientific experiments in solving problems for preservation and conservation of pieces. The goal of analyzing and understanding processes connected with the development of the theory of conservation and the study of the ethics of restoring works led to the establishment of the Department of the Theory and History of Museum Art Conservation.

A defining characteristic of the contemporary state of art conservation at the Russian Museum is the scientific approach to all stages of work. This applies to the comprehensive technological, historical, and artistic study of the work before conservation work begins, the development of the optimal and safest method of intervention based on the results of said study, the discussion of the information received from conservation councils, and objective and accurate documentation and monitoring while the work is in progress.

As of January 1, 2020, the Art Conservation Department has 89 employees, including 30 top-tier restorers and 15 primary-tier restorers.


Artwork Conservation I Department Divisions | Technological Analysis | History of the Department Contacts | Video I Русская версия

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