The conservation studios of the Museum für Islamische Kunst relocated in 2012 and are now housed at the Archäologisches Zentrum, a combined facility of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, just a few minutes away from the Pergamonmuseum. This is where our conservators work on preserving and restoring carpets and textiles and objects made of organic and inorganic materials. The two modern studios also provide working spaces for students, freelance staff, and for visiting scholars and scientists.
Carpets and textiles
The textile studio is responsible for the care of around 450 classical carpets and flat-weaves, as well as 700 textiles from the main Islamic regions. Our carpet collection, with its array of unique artworks ranging from the 15th–19th century, enjoys world renown. The works, most preserved as fragments, are examined and evaluated using the latest conservation science methods and are categorized according to art-historical technique and style. This includes the analysis of production techniques and scientific investigative methods to determine which dyes and materials were used in their fabrication. Particular attention is also paid to previous restoration and conservation treatments and past alterations to the actual fabric, as these can contribute to unravelling some of the mystery surrounding the history of the object.
Separate conservation strategies and plans have to be drawn up for each individual object. In order to clean large carpets and textiles, the studio is equipped with a washing facility that is unique in Germany and which allows for a motion-free wet-cleaning system to be applied to the fragile textile art. Natural fibres are used in stitching to secure points of wear in the textile artworks.
The installation technique used in displaying the carpets in the exhibition was developed by the museum itself. The frame system is adaptable to suit the dimensions of each object. This allows for the vertical presentation of the object directly on the wall. The carpets can thus be viewed in their entirety while simultaneously keeping surface dust to a minimum.
Organic and inorganic materials
The conservation studio for organic and inorganic materials is responsible for the care of artefacts of wood, ivory and bone, stone, stucco, ceramic, metal and glass, paper objects, and book art.
Conservators are responsible for both the exhibited works and those held in storage. This entails the continuous improvement of storage conditions as well as care for objects in the permanent exhibition. Strategies for preventive conservation are developed and implemented as regards environmental conditions, lighting and light protection, integrated pest management, airborne contaminants and particulate pollution.
Damaged artworks are treated in the studio according to the most up-to-date standards and practices in conservation science. An analysis laboratory allows conservators to perform technical investigations and material analyses to help them understand fabrication techniques and establish which raw materials were used. These findings are often supported through our ongoing cooperation with the Rathgen-Forschungslabor and other research disciplines. Combined with the findings of archaeologists and art-historians, the conservators’ work adds a further dimension to research conducted at the Museum für Islamische Kunst on the materiality of the artworks.
In damage analysis, a survey is made of the original fabrication and subsequent damages, after which the appropriate materials and conservation and restoration methodologies are selected. The next phase is the compilation of detailed individual treatment concepts for objects, supplemented with visual documentation.
Collaborations with universities, other museums, and scientists contribute to the further education and training of staff and foster the sharing of ideas and experience. At the studio, particular emphasis is given to the training of conservator-restorers, advisory services to other institutions, and the sharing of findings with colleagues from the Islamic world, as demonstrated most recently with the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, the Herat National Museum, and with various institutions in Saudi Arabia. In addition to all this, graduate students completing degrees in conservation science receive training and supervision as they complete their final-year work using objects from the museum.