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TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS hours, prices
The Art of Conservation – The Conservation of Art
The Art of Conservation – The Conservation of Art: Highlights from a Quarter Century of Conservation at Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Royal Castle
April 24-September 16, 2018
The exhibition presents a selection of 84 objects that have undergone conservation treatment between 1995 and 2018. This vital aspect of collection care often remains in the background, but it is responsible for the overall condition of the museum’s holdings. It is also an integral and fascinating part of the history of individual objects and of the collection as a whole.
The profession requires a harmonious balance of artistic talent, skill, and knowledge, as well as determination and patience to tackle time-consuming, labor-intensive processes. In addition, the conservator must possess the expertise to utilize data from advanced scientific tests, which make in-depth assessment of objects possible and aid in selecting the best methods and materials to use in the conservation treatment.
The range of conservation treatments presented is as varied as the Wawel collections themselves and include paintings, sculpture, textiles, porcelain, period furniture, works on paper, arms and armor, and archaeological objects. Selected documentation accompanying the works on view illustrates the steps involved from the initial condition assessment, to the analytical tests, through the various techniques involved in the conservator’s practice, up to the end result – the restored work of art.
Multi-media presentations, which offer a deeper exploration of particularly involved treatments, accompany 25 of the works. A film presenting the Castle’s seven conservation studios at work rounds out the exhibition.
Conservation has been a vital part of the Wawel museum since its inception. The first conservators at the Castle were already at work before the museum formally opened in 1930. When Poland emerged victorious from the Polish-Bolshevik War, Russia returned on the basis of the Treaty of Riga (1921) large numbers of artworks looted in previous centuries. Most of the works, especially the priceless of 16th-century Flemish tapestries from the collection of Sigismund II Augustus, required complex and varied conservation treatment prompting the creation of the first workshops in the 1920s. These laid the foundations for the specialized modern facilities staffed today by highly-trained professional conservators whose work is the focus of the exhibition.