Both conservation and restoration play a significant role in museum activity and serve the purpose of preserving material culture (museum collection) to ensure the past is not forgotten. The Department staff perform these functions, give second life to relics of Belarusian history and culture dated back to 18th – 20th centuries, namely ceramics, artworks, ethnographic textile, cooperage, wickerworks and other crafts, agricultural implements, pieces of furniture and etc.
Restoration is a complex notion based on knowledge of natural history, humanitarian and technical sciences. At the same time restoration is a creative work. Though this creativity should be in harmony with the author’s and should respect him but not struggle against his views (it is inadmissible and even dangerous). Restorer should be able to detect the place of the artifact in the cultural space, to understand the author and his thoughts, to analyze the history of the artifact and to distinguish the most important points, to choose ways and methods of preserving the historical integrity of the artifact.
The department team consists of 5 employees: artists and restorers of higher and specialized secondary education whose job is to repair old buildings, paintings, and furniture so that they are look like they did when they were new. The state of all museum exhibits depends to a large extent on the work of this very department and its staff, on their knowledge, experience, level of competence and education, on their professional skills and the ability to use adequately restoration techniques as well as on their understanding of restoration objectives.
Main functions of the department are the following:
- conserving and restoring tangible cultural heritage;
- monitoring the state of the museum collection displayed on the exhibition and preserved in the museum repository
- taking preventive measures and detecting those objects which need immediate restoration;
- monitoring the state of restored museum objects;
- preparing artifacts for the exhibition;
- developing and administrating documentation on restoration.
The department artists and restorers widely apply known restoration techniques, the results of ethnographic and scientific research as well as methods developed by the museum staff. All of these methods and techniques were approbated in an open-air museum environment.
Restoration Department staff developed the ceramics restoration methodology based on butyl methacrylate (BMC-5). This very methodology acquired a good reputation in museums with unstable exhibiting and preserving conditions. The experience gained during the research work is generalized in the volume “Ceramics restoration practice of the Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle” (2009). This restoration methodology based on butyl methacrylate (BMC-5) was approbated during the I International school for conservators which took place in Minsk (UNESCO project, 2005).
Relics of wooden folk architecture dated back to the 18th-20th centuries and gathered together in our museum complex form the core group of museum exhibits. It is a unique collection of such kind in Belarus which determines museum type and profile.
The process of preserving relics of wooden folk architecture needs proper care of a multidisciplinary expert team. It is wide-scale, difficult and multistep work.
For the past 5 years the Museum has been cooperating with the Institute of Microbiology and with the Institute of Nature Management of the National Academy of Science of the Republic of Belarus in relation to preventing museum objects from mold contamination.
Restoration Department is now looking for sponsorship to purchase restoration equipment and materials necessary for restoration procedures. The assistance will serve to safeguard material objects of folk culture, to preserve the past for future generations to enjoy