Laboratory of Restoration and Conservation
Olga ZHMUR, Head of Laboratory
Inna MARMER, Restorer
History of the Laboratory
The laboratory was orgonised largely through the efforts of Nickolai Girenko, then acting Director of MAE, and Tatyana Khodova,who headed the laboratory until her premature death. In 1999, thanks to T.Ya. Khodova and her coworkers (T. G. Bogomazova, Head of the Museum's IT Department participated in the project as one of its managers), the MAE received a grant from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the organization of a workshop-studio and a souvenir shop at the Kunstkamera (as part of the project “Reconstruction of St.Petersburg Historical Center”). In 2000–01,under this project, the laboratory was overhauled and new sophisticated equipment was purchased, making it possible to introduce new conservation and restoration techniques and extend the range of operations.Also, it has become possible to launch new activities such as monitoring storage conditions at the museum with the use of digital photography, electronic processing of information, and development of a restoration and conservation database.
Due to the nature of ethnographic specimens, some of which are made of several materials, MAE restorers are not merely specialists in traditional materials, but have much skill in restoring and preserving numerous additional materials including “exotic” ones such as various feathers, vegetable fibers, mollusk shells, fish skins, intestines of sea mammals, egg shell, etc., as well as unique ethnographic mannequins. Due to the museum's intense exhibition activities, much of the laboratory's work is related to the preparation of collections for display at temporary exhibitions at MAE, at other museums of St. Petersburg and Russia, and abroad. Cooperation with foreign colleagues is common. Thus, while preparing of the exhibition The Samurai at Vapriiki Center (Tampere, Finland), MAE specimens were restored under the assistance of specialists from Tampere, Helsinki, and Jyväskülä.
The laboratory's priorities include control over the condition of specimens in museum depositories (this includes programs of longterm monitoring of the most valuable collections) and their conservation (standard and preventive) carried out together with museum curators.Its staff members carry out consultations on material science, provision of safety, conservation and restoration of museum values for staff members of the MAE and other cultural institutions. One of the tasks is sophisticated digital photography of restoration procedures; monitoring of preservation conditions, too, is photographically aided.