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The conservation of the Collection of Classical Antiquities - a collection of worldwide significance - is looked after by three workshops. Each workshop offers places for interns and the supervision of masters dissertations (Diplomarbeiten).
Conservation of stone
Only a small number of the 27,000 stone objects cared for here, which include sculptures, architectural objects, inscriptions and mosaics, are on display in the exhibitions at the Pergamon Museum and the Altes Museum, the remainder being stored in depots. The stone conservation workshop based at the Pergamon Museum looks after objects of various size and material, such as marble, limestone and basalt. Its remit includes complex conservation processes, their documentation and, if necessary, scientific examination, as well as the care of temporary exhibitions both in Germany and abroad. Archaeologists, scientists and conservators work in concert on a variety of research projects and publish the results. Over and above this, individual conservation projects are carried out by freelance conservators under the supervision of employees of the museum.
Conservation of Metal
Significant objects from the antiquities collection are made of non-precious metals such as bronze, iron or lead. Additionally to ordinary conservation treatments, a major emphasis has been put onto the research of manufacturing techniques since several years and its documentation. This research is realized in co-operation with specialists from the humanities and natural sciences and is regularly accompanied by lectures, temporary exhibitions and publications. Other collections of the National Museums in Berlin are supported by the Collection of Classical Antiquities' conservators in the assessment of damage profiles of metal objects, the development of conservation strategies and hands-on conservation. The department also co-ordinates and supervises the conservation of sculptures in out-door environments on the Museum Island by external conservators.
Gemstones rank among the precious metal objects made of gold and silver. On gold jewellery technical investigation is necessary to distinguish antique elements from later additions. Silver vessels sometimes suffer from repairs and replacements dating to the late 18th and 19th centuries, which are parts of the objects history. In some cases they have to be removed for preservation needs. For silver is highly reactive to sulphuric gases, a protective coating on the cleaned silver surface is especially important.
Conservation of ceramics
The 19,000 objects in the ceramics holdings are comprised of vases, terracotta figures, ceramic building elements and excavation findings. Additional pieces in the care of the department are constructed out of glass, wood or ivory. Especial emphasis in conservation is placed on work with fragile Greek vases and antique glasses, encaustic mummie portraits, terracotta figures with very sensitive painted surfaces and ceramic building elements which are in various states of repair. The large number of loans is also supervised by the workshop based at the Altes Museum by means of condition reports detailing their condition.