Polish Posters

Title Polish Posters
School Poland
Date End of the XIX - beginning of the XX century
Technique Colour lithography
Workshop Paper Сonservation

In preparation for the exhibition "Polish Posters from XIX-XX centuries", held in 2011, the Paper Conservation workshop received 42 posters, which were a part of Pavel Ettinger’s collection transferred to the Pushkin State Museum in 1949 according to the will of the collector.

The museum conservators took part in this project together with a conservator from Poland Jacek Tomaszewski who was sent to Moscow by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as a part of the Save the Polish Heritage program. Materials for the conservation of the posters were kindly provided by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute: a buffer solution, a solution for securing seals and stamps, Japanese paper and glue for backing, and also auxiliary materials from Goretex and Hollytex.

Before the conservation treatments started, the state of preservation of the pieces had to be studied. They were photographed, tested for the paper acidity, as well as neutrality and water resistance of the paints and ink of the museum stamps.

The posters chosen for the exhibition made in the technique of coloured lithography were in a very poor condition: the paper made of wood pulp was fragile and brittle, heavily soiled, with numerous gaps and losses, it also had stickers on the reverse side. It was necessary to clean the pieces, neutralize the paper, fix the stamps made with violet ink, mend the tears and creases, fill in the losses and back the paper.

After cleaning the posters of surface contaminants and consolidating the ink, the parts of the posters consisting of more than one piece were separated, and the stickers were removed. Then, depending on how resistant the ink was to the water treatment, the posters were washed in different ways: on a Hollytex support in a bath or on a vacuum table. After washing, the paper was treated with a buffer solution to stabilize and bring it to a neutral pH. Some posters printed on thin and fragile paper were impregnated with a weak solution of methylcellulose.

The tears and creases were backed with Japanese paper, the losses were filled with paper, similar in texture, thickness, and colour to the original. In some cases, when the paper of the base was coloured, the losses were filled with coloured paper pulp.

Considering the large size and fragility of the posters’ bases, as well as the numerous tears and creases, the posters were backed with thin Japanese paper brought by our Polish colleague. The posters were dried with blotting paper and then slightly dampened with Goretex and pressed between the sheets of acid-free cardboard for 10 days.

Working together with Jacek Tomaszewski allowed us to learn about the European methods of work with such pieces, as well as the materials used for conservation in the West.