Conservation and Restoration

Many highly specialized staff are employed throughout the Foundation to preserve vulnerable cultural heritage artifacts. They perform restoration or conservation work and prevent damage occurring.

Preservation of genealogical tables of members of the Order of Saint John (Opens a larger version of the image)

Preserving unique cultural objects: restore and digitize genealogical tables of members of the Order of Saint John in the Geheimes Staatsarchiv PK. © GStA PK / Vinia Rutkowski

Conservation as a Safeguard and Preventive

Conservation secures the existing state of an object. Prevention is intended to forestall damage. Their scope includes professional collection management and the storage of objects according to conservation requirements. This involves, for example, preparing specifications for the air conditioning and equipment of exhibition and storage spaces.

Optimal storage conditions will be provided by the planned central storage facility at the new storage site in Friedrichshagen bieten. In June 2014, storage warehouse for the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Ibero-American Institute) and the bpk Bildagentur (Picture Agency bpk) went into operation. The building boasts cutting-edge technology and is specially designed for storing vulnerable cultural artifacts.

Some of Foundation's specialized workshops will also be brought together at the central storage site in Friedrichshagen. Bundling the expertise of scientific specialists in this way should produce yet more synergies in the future.

Special Workshops for Conservation and Restoration

If damage or deterioration are observed, the object concerned is fully restored. Every step is carried out with respect for the original and its history. The various workshops of the Foundation are staffed by restorers with specialist training. Some of the research methods used by them are unique.

Museum Objects of Different Materials

The restoration workshops of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) specialize in different types of component material. In particular, there are stone, wood, ceramics, and textile workshops. In addition to conservation and restoration, the peculiarities of each object in terms of art and material technology are examined.

Just across from the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is the Archäologische Zentrum (Archaeological Centre), which opened in 2012. This bundles the archaeological capabilities of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. In addition to study collections, libraries, archives and administrative offices, it also accommodates restoration workshops. There are five restoration workshops, specializing in stone, ceramics, metal, and papyrus, as well as wood and other organic materials. They take care of objects from the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection). The restorers and the storage manager are responsible for looking after the objects while they are in storage, on display in the museum, or out on loan to other institutions.

Conservation and Restoration of Paper

Experts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Secret State Archives) primarily restore and preserve textual documents made of paper, but also of parchment. Among the most important conservation measures here are proper storage and packaging, as well as mass-deacidification.

All of the procedures for preserving the items in the collections are being continually improved. To this end, both institutions are active in a range of bodies, committees, and networks, as well as collaborative work. On the initiative of German libraries and archives, the "Alliance for preserving written cultural heritage" was founded in 2001 with the goal of making it a shared, national responsibility to safeguard written cultural heritage. This is the origin of the Coordination Office for the Preservation of the Written Cultural Heritage (KEK), which has been based at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin since 2010.

Preservation of Musical Instruments

In the Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Museum of Musical Instruments) of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute for Music Research), various types of instrument are restored and safeguarded. When the conservation requirements dictate that a particular original instrument may no longer be played, a replica of that instrument can be made. As far as possible, identical materials are used in its construction.