The Gipsformerei at MUTEC 2016

Gipsformerei - Kunstmanufaktur seit 1819

The Gipsformerei (Replica Workshop) of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is hosting the special exhibition ‘Plaster Casting – Historic and Modern Techniques’ from 10 to 12 November 2016 at MUTEC 2016 in Leipzig. The show offers fascinating insights into the restoration and preservation of artworks using analogue and digital methods.

The Gipsformerei is both a museum archive that houses unique cultural treasures, and an art workshop that is capable of producing its own masterpieces. It was founded in 1819, making it the oldest institution within the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Since its foundation, the Gipsformerei has acquired around 7,000 objects and is thus the largest collection of its kind worldwide.

The special exhibition will present various restoration techniques, employing both conventional casting methods and non-contact scanning. The sculpture of Achilles from 1828 by Neoclassical sculptor Christian Friedrich Tieck has been chosen to demonstrate these processes. The Gipsformerei owns a cast of Achilles, which, however, is missing the lance and left foot. A 3D scan of the cast provided a model for a new mould that can be used as a basis for the restoration of the Achilles figure.

A further section is dedicated to the production of high-quality, coloured versions of a replica of Nefertiti. The replica was developed over two years and is the only model from a museum workshop that is available for purchase. Notable in its construction was the use of colour-matching analyses, original pigments, and the eye made of cut rock crystal. It was created using historical painting techniques derived from a structured-light 3D scan.

The third section is devoted to the subject of ‘Lost Artworks’ in which the workshop will present a selection of old historical moulds and models in different stages of restoration and preservation that vary considerably from their current state today. As a record of how such objects change over time, the casts themselves become original works of art in their own right and serve as an important historical source of information.

The trade fair MUTEC is being held at the conference and exhibition grounds in Leipzig. Its central themes are museum technology and equipment, visitor services, multimedia presentations, and museum infrastructure with topics such as archiving, storage, and digitization. With its broad outlook, the fair is aimed at operators of museums and collections, exhibition venues, galleries, archives, and libraries.