In early March, the American ambassador, John B. Emerson, and his wife Kimberly visited the Gipsformerei, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s own plaster casting workshop. They were accompanied by the former Berlin Mayor Walter Momper and his wife. The head of the Gipsformerei, Miguel Helfrich, guided the official visitors through the storerooms, the workshop, and the painting studio. The guests were shown outstanding pieces from the collection, such as a cast of the iconic Laocoön Group, and were given demonstrations of the techniques that go into the making of museum-grade replicas. The ambassador and his wife were visibly impressed by the collection and the traditional handcrafting techniques demonstrated by staff. And they were also, of course, impressed by the wonderful replicas of the Nefertiti Bust, one of the most famous objects at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
The Staatliche Museen’s Gipsformerei is the largest institution of its kind. A total of 24 employees produce high-quality museum-grade replicas from plaster, which are shipped all over the globe – to museums, collectors, but also artists, such as the American Jeff Koons. With a collection of 7000 casts, the Gipsformerei also serves as a sculpture archive for originals that have since been worn away, lost, or destroyed: over 500 casts are unique perfect replicas of vanished originals.