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Turgenev’s armchair, a fan of a breeze, an Iron Age vessel, an embroidered panel from the 1st century BC and much more … How history comes to life in Moscow workshops – read this article.

Every year, the collections of museums in Moscow and Russia are replenished with exhibits restored in the workshops of the All-Russian Art Scientific Restoration Center named after Academician I.E. Grabar, the anniversary of the creator of which is celebrated this year. The work of specialists allows us to see objects of the past as they were 100, 200, and thousands of years ago. Many of the center’s workshops are unique and have no analogues in the country. The most interesting of them can be found in the article.

Department of ceramic restoration

All types of materials that are classified as ceramics are restored here – porcelain, faience, biscuit, semi-porcelain, stone mass. In addition, the workshop staff specializes in glass restoration.

“We have recently completed a very complex restoration of an exhibit from the Moscow Kremlin – an Iron Age vessel from the second half of the 1st millennium BC, which was found during excavations. He entered in a ruined state: these were fragments of various shapes. When selecting fragments to each other, we sifted out about seven, which turned out to be just pebbles, ”says the head of the workshop, artist-restorer of the highest category Yekaterina Sharkova.

Significant corrosive deposits were observed on the fragments of the pot. They needed to be removed. As a result, the real color of the clay was revealed, which was completely heterogeneous. The next stage was the gluing of the fragments: we managed to fold the rim and the base and thus find out the diameter of the vessel. After gluing the parts matching each other, a lot of “hanging” fragments remained, which had no attachment points. The question arose about a reconstruction that would render the form.

“With such a large amount of loss, the replenishment would exceed 50 percent of the surface of the entire vessel. And there is an ethical rule in restoration – do not make up if more than 50 percent is missing. It was decided to create a supporting form of clay, on which all the surviving authentic fragments can be applied and fixed to the surface with glue. And now visitors to the museum can easily imagine exactly how this ancient vessel looked. “

As for glass, the workshop has restored such exhibits as a Pompeian-style lantern from the Museum of V.A. Tropinin and two chinoiserie-style window screens from the Ostankino estate museum. These screens were created by order of Count Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev and were intended to decorate interiors.

At the moment, the workshop contains items from various museums in Russia. Among them are the imperial palace porcelain vase, ethnographic material made of porous ceramics, archaeological glass and many other interesting exhibits, which will soon be restored and returned to museums.

Department of Leather Restoration and Archaeological Textiles

The workshop for the restoration of leather and archaeological textiles is unique in that it is the first and only one not only in Moscow, but throughout Russia. The head of the workshop is Natalia Sinitsyna, an artist-restorer of the highest category.

It also restores leather items from the ethnographic collections of Russian museums. An important part of the workshop’s work is the training of young specialists and archaeologists who interact with objects even at the excavation stage, as well as the creation of a methodology that could be used to test all existing methods of leather restoration and scientifically substantiate them.

The most significant object that fell into the hands of the workshop’s specialists is an embroidered panel from the 1st century BC. It was raised in 2009 from the bottom of the Noin-Ula burial mound (Northern Mongolia). Now this monument is under the protection of UNESCO.

“It was hard to imagine that textiles could be extracted from a pile of clay. To do this, it was necessary to carefully remove the excess clay from the surface, then gently erode the clay and straighten the fragments of the textile with a small spatula. The thin material, after cleaning, was applied to the backing cloth for reinforcement and sewn with a needle. A unique embroidered panel from the Xiongnu burial mounds, which is more than two thousand years old, has acquired a new life, ”says Natalya Sinitsyna.

The workshop specialists have restored many exhibits from the necropolis of the Russian queens of the Ascension Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin. This is a leather belt of Princess Evdokia Donskoy, booties, children’s boots, shoes, braided crosses. All of them were badly deformed and contaminated.

And recently, Ivan Turgenev’s chair from the Spasskoye-Lutovinovo estate was being restored in the workshop.

“It has already been restored earlier, and the secondary restoration is actually ten times more difficult than the primary one, since first you need to determine the compositions and materials with which the material was impregnated or glued. Already at the stage of searching for duplicate leather, we could not find an option that would fit the texture, had an embossing. Then a method was invented: thin skin was moistened, dense skin with a relief was superimposed on it. As a result, all the lost fragments were replenished, ”explains the restorer.

Department of restoration of carved bone items

This workshop appeared in 1962 and is associated with the name of Margarita Kozina, who created a new direction of work in the Grabar center – restoration of carved bone works. It was Kozina who was the first in the country to start working with objects made of bone, horn, whalebone, ostrich feathers, mother of pearl, hard wood, sea foam and many others. Since 2003, the workshop has been managed by a student of Margarita Nikolaevna – an artist-restorer of the highest category Larisa Getman.

The geography of the museums collaborating with the workshop is extremely extensive. In total, over the years of work, specialists have restored more than two thousand monuments from museums not only in Moscow, the Moscow region, but also in many regions of the country. The restoration included archaeological objects made of bone, and picturesque miniatures on bones, fans with feathers and mother-of-pearl, carved caskets, boxes, icons, staffs and much more.

Among the significant works of the workshop is the restoration of a chest of drawers that belonged to the actress of the Maly Theater Maria Ermolova, from the collection of the A.A. Bakhrushin. The base of the chest of drawers was made in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and the bone decor is typical of the first half of the 19th century.

“This project involved not only all the workshop employees, but also a furniture restorer. The chest of drawers came to us with significant dust pollution, which penetrated into the structure of wood and bone. On the dresser for decoration, a certain master made an overhead openwork decor, many of its details were lost. During the restoration process, the structure was strengthened, complex dirt was removed, numerous losses of decorative bone ornament were replenished in accordance with all accepted restoration standards, ”says Larisa Getman.

The restoration of Russian, Western European and Eastern fans became a separate area of ​​the workshop’s work. For example, a fan breeze from the A.S. Pushkin is assembled from ivory plates, decorated with carvings, foil and paintings. It was made in Germany in the second half of the 19th century. When the fan entered the workshop, all its plates were dirty, covered with spots and cracks, the painting was worn. It was necessary to replenish the lost fragments of lace cut ornament.

“I really wanted to keep the airiness, lightness, weightlessness of the fan. Therefore, for replenishment, I chose a material close to the original – mammoth ivory bone. Cutting openwork is the most important operation, which is performed on a specially adapted dovetail board with a jewelry jigsaw. The hand-made records had to be adjusted to the author’s with perfect seam joining, as well as duplication – to create a second supporting layer for the plates. As a result, the exhibit acquired an expositional look, retaining its delicate attractiveness and the ability to develop, ”the specialist notes.

All-Russian Art Scientific Restoration Center named after academician I.E. Grabar’s history dates back to June 10, 1918. During this time, its employees have preserved thousands of art monuments, including icons of the cathedrals of the Moscow Kremlin, icons “Our Lady of Vladimir” and “Trinity” by Andrei Rublev, paintings and graphics from the collections of the Dresden Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery, exhibits from the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin museum and many others.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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