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The Museum of Islamic Art on Berlin's Museum Island presents masterworks from the diverse countries and different parts of life of Islamic art and culture from the 7th to the 19th centuries. Developments after the Second World War led to separation of the two workshops in different locations. The textile conservation workshop can be found in the Dahlem museums. Further materials which make up the collection are restored in the Pergamon Museum on the Museum Island.
Conservation of textiles in Dahlem
The Museum of Islamic Art's textile workshop looks after one of the most comprehensive collections of carpets and textiles outside of the East. Its main focus is in the conservation of knotted carpets and flat woven fabric from the 15th to the 19th centuries, as well as the conservation of textiles predominantly recovered by archaeological investigation.
With the rebuilding of the museums in Dahlem, in 1968 the collection was given for the first time a textile conservation workshop which was equipped in a fashion in keeping with modern priorities, and which, since 1992, has been responsible for all of the carpets and textiles belonging to the re-merged museum.
For the first time, even very large carpets could be restored here. Unique in Germany, the 40 square meter washing facility allows movement-free wet cleaning of fragile textile works of art, such as, for example, the Turkish tent belonging to the German Historical Museum in Berlin. The system of presenting carpets on collapsible steel frames, which was developed in-house, has been a trend-setter for other collections. Thus in 1972, the Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi in Istanbul decided to equip its own workshop in line with the example set by Berlin. Besides care of the collection and the integration of numerous additions and gifts, particular attention has been given in the last few years to training. In particular, co-operation with conservators from an Islamic cultural background makes it possible to apply the knowledge acquired in the countries of origin to pieces from the collection.
Conservation on the Museum Island
The collection holdings cared for by the conservation workshop in the Pergamon Museum includes works of art made of wood, stone, plaster, ceramic, metal, ivory, glass, leather and paper. The studio's main responsibility is the conservational care of works both on exhibition and in storage. This includes the continual improvement of storage conditions as much as regular measures to ensure care and cleaning in the permanent exhibition. Works of art in need of conservation are examined, analysed, documented and restored using the most current practices, often also in co-operation with the Rathgen Research Laboratory and external research facilities. Damage to works of art is mapped and the appropriate materials for conservation and conservation are selected. All conservation and conservation measures are documented in writing and photographs. Further responsibilities have accumulated in connection with the planned overhaul of the Pergamon Museum, including measures to protect the major works during the renovation work.
One special project is the preventative conservation of the comprehensive holdings of Islamic book art. In addition, a temporary exhibition is planned to introduce for the first time the collection of wooden works of art and present new art historical and scientific findings as well as conservation technology knowledge. A further large project is the first-time technological survey of the comprehensive archaeological museum holdings from Samarra, the Abbasid residence located in present-day Iraq, in connection with an international research project, the Samarra Finds Project. Interns, students and those working on their masters dissertations from university conservation courses are regularly supervised in the workshop. By this means, interest in the conservation of Islamic art is promoted. Also aimed at is the promotion of co-operation and advanced training for colleagues in conservation from Islamic countries.