The Conservation Department

Given its broad array of collections, the Münchner Stadtmuseum’s Conservation Department has been progressively expanded since the 1980s. It currently employs 14 staff with a range of restoration disciplines – including painting, works on paper, furniture and wooden objects, metalwork and decorative art objects, textiles, objects made of different materials and material combinations, photography, and musical instruments. In 2010 the Preventive Conservation Unit was added to the department. The Conservation Department also manages the museum’s external Art-storage.

The conservators’ duties range from analysis and research through to conservation and restoration, the general maintenance of objects of cultural and artistic value, and the provision of expert advice. The department's core functions include preventive conservation and the support of exhibitions.

In the initial analysis phase, objects are examined from the perspectives of their past and full historical evolution, their material composition – including factors specific to the materials and their crafting – their ageing, any damage they have suffered, and the reasons for this damage. The results are then evaluated and documented, laying down the parameters for all future treatment of the item.

The purpose of conservation is to prevent any decay of cultural assets as far as possible. Preserving the materials and preventing damage are equally crucial factors.

This function is augmented by the museum’s preventive conservation work. This involves the discussion and implementation of prophylactic measures designed to preserve an item’s constituent materials and therefore its value. It entails issues like storage, safety measures, maintenance and developing approbiate problem solutions.

Restoration involves all those steps taken to undo any unintended changes, impairments or damage to objects and their appearance, and to restore them to a condition where their relevance can once again be appreciated. Changes that objects have undergone during their genesis and history are always taken into account during the restoration process.

Care and maintenance entails a continuous status review of the museum’s resources and the management of environmental influences on the study collections and exhibitions. The correct atmospheric conditions in the storage rooms need to be maintained; measures to help preserve individual materials may be mandated.

In research projects, the staff is charged with describing and evaluating objects of artistic and cultural value in their historical and technological manifestations. This includes conducting research on ageing and other changes by reference to historical archive documents. Their remit also includes optimizing the conservation techniques and materials in use.

In addition to this range of activities, the Conservation Department at Münchner Stadtmuseum also assumes a variety of functions related to its exhibitions. Every year, the department’s employees typically supervise the construction and dismantling of between eight and ten temporary exhibitions, some featuring the museum's own resources and some loans from other institutions at home and abroad. This work involves condition reports of loan objects in text and pictures – both on receipt and prior to their return.

Beyond this, the Conservation Department's experts are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the permanent exhibitions.