Restoration Workshops

Soon after the foundation of the museum it became clear it was not enough just to collect items but because of their condition and the damage to them they had to be systematically maintained and when necessary restored and prepared for exhibition. Director Vladimir Tkalčić was the first in the museum not only to collect and salvage artworks but also, in 1912, successfully to conserve damaged sculpture. Hence in 1930 he managed to organise the first restoration workshop with two expert restorers. The workshop worked all the time until a few years after World War II when an order was given for it to become the Restoration Institute of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts. Only the preparators remained in the Museum. Necessary operations were carried out on metal, fine crafts items and furnishings, while paintings and sculptures were restored in the Institute.

In spite of the work conducted with the Institute, it was clear that this was not enough, and that the museum needed, for its own needs, not just preparation but also its own restoration workshops.

Director Zdenka Munk, after a lot of effort and endeavours, managed to start off the restoration workshop again, and in 1967 sculpture started to be restored in the museum once more, the carpentry workshop being reinforced. Restoration activity expanded once again in 1979 when a senior restorer for painting and sculpture arrived as well as a restorer for metal, glass and ceramics. A further expansion of the workshops occurred in 1986 when a textile workshop was founded, with the employment of the corresponding restorer.

In the next few years the number of exhibitions and major projects increased, and preparations for the new permanent display started. The quantity of required operations also increased, and the number of restorers had to be increased, first of all with part-time workers, and finally in 1994 three new restoration jobs were created – for sculpture, metal and textile.

Although all four workshops (painting and sculpture, textile, furnishings and metal, glass and ceramics) have constantly been expanded and equipped, and the restorers have had ongoing training and kept pace with their fellows in Europe, for some areas, it has still been necessary to employ part time workers and to outsource, indicating the inevitability of expanding the workshops in the future as well.