The Pushkin State and The Bode Museum: plans for a major project discussed

A series of meetings between the Pushkin State conservators and their Berlin colleagues took place this week. They were focused on the project collaborative restoration of unique items from the museum collection. All those items got to Moscow in 1946 and originally belonged to a now defunct museum of Kaiser Friedrich in Berlin, whose legal successor is currently the Bode Museum. A part of the collection was returned to Berlin in 1959 as a part of a program for returning of transferred art. Those objects were restored by the Bode museum specialists and presented at the exhibition The Lost Museum. Paintings and sculptures from the Berlin collections 70 years after the war in 2015.

The issue of restoration of this collection is of an extreme importance. It contains masterpieces of such great artists as Donatello, Nicolo and Giovanni Pisano, Mino da Fiesole, Andrea del Verrocchio, and Luke Della Robbia. Some of the pieces from the collection used to be considered irretrievably lost during the Second World War. Together, museum experts will do their best to make these objects accessible to the public again.

The conservators are facing a difficult task. The objects from the collection were badly damaged in two fires in in Friedrichshain bunker during the last days of the war. Many of them are in a fragmented condition and bear the traces of fire. Participation of Berlin specialists will help the Russian conservators immensely, as there are still original molds for plaster copies of the statues kept in Berlin. These molds will help the conservators recreate the original looks of the statues.

The specialists presented at the meeting included Julien Chapuis, director of the Sculpture collection and  the Museum of Byzantine Art at the Bode Museum,  art conservator Paul Hoffmann,and Manfred Nawrot, curator of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin. In addition, the event was attended by the specialists from the Kurchatov Institute research center E. Tereshchenko, A. Blagov and M. Popov.

The guests from Bode Museum shared their experience of restoration of some of the objects that were damaged in Berlin fires. In return, the Pushkin State conservators shared their own experience of working with similar objects. The researchers from Kurchatov Insitute presented the preliminary results of their research of the damaged pieces. The specialists discussed the technological and ethical issues of the upcoming restoration treatments.

The conservators have a long and complex work lying ahead of them, the final results of which will have global significance.