Conservation and art-technological research

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has in its care collections of unique artworks and cultural artefacts. The material composition of each object serves to document the artistic and technical production processes of a hugely diverse range of cultures and epochs. The preservation of these extensive collections of objects made from an array of different materials is carried out in each of the museums by specialized professional conservators.

In addition to the conservation of all objects and the restoration of those objects deemed at risk of deterioration, our conservators also conduct research into historical uses of materials and historical constructions, as well as researching and documenting the changes the objects have undergone over time, the history and evolution of production techniques, and the history of restoration. To help them in this task, our conservators work with art historians, archaeologists, and scientists from many disciplines, often beyond the confines of Germany or Europe. This broad cooperation is the driving force for the expansion of knowledge that advances numerous disciplines at once and is not confined to art or archaeology. The development of innovative methods and the testing of appropriate materials is of great importance in conservation work and in particular in restoration treatments. Specific information on current conservation projects undertaken by the individual collections can be found on their pages on this website.

Besides research, another key, ongoing task for conservators is preventive conservation, which entails the conservation management of temporary exhibitions, the monitoring and care of loans, the monitoring of temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions in the galleries themselves, as well as in the storerooms and in transit.

The conservation departments at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are furthermore involved in educating future generations of conservators and restorers, by assisting in pre-study internships, semester internships, mentoring student projects and theses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as holding seminars and specialist talks. The conservation departments also provide postgraduate vocational training to people embarking on museum careers (see ‘Volontariat’).

Our conservators specialize in different areas and in different materials, as per the varying nature of each collection, and they share this knowledge both within the SMB and externally by publishing their findings. The chief conservators and restorers have set up the working group ‘Von Restauratoren erforscht’, which presents to interested members of the public a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at current conservation projects and topics.