Restoration of Paintings / Art

St. Petersburg is an amazing city. There is history buried within every stone and in every building. On my first day in the city, I explored the process of painting restoration.

This is very important and must be done by professionals to result in the best outcome. The paintings are stored on rolls in tubes before the restoration process. The painting is then put flat on a table. Depending on the condition of the canvas, the paint can be removed from the deteriorating canvas and placed on a new one. The glue used in Russia is sturgeon glue. This varies throughout the world. The paint can be retouched by hand by highly trained specialists. There is also a technique of using alcohol vapors to refurbish the paint. If someone who lacks experience tries these techniques it is highly likely the painting will be ruined or damaged. The Hermitage feels they are the best at restoration, although every museum believes this of themselves.

Usually a curator of a museum will commission for a painting to be restored and this determines the order of which paintings are restored. While we were in the Hermitage lab, we observed paintings laying dormant around the room. Many paintings wait a long time until they are restored. The works of big name artists are usually given preference but it does depend on the commissions.

Although many works of art are restored, there is limited museum space. Many amazing works of art including: painting, sculpture, and furniture end up in storage lockers. The Hermitage has a very extensive collection of various types of art that currently have no homes.

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