The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp does not merely schow and research its collection. The museum also makes great efforts to preserve its artworks for future generations.
About ten years ago, a restoration workshop was established. The workshop was initially manned by two restorers and an assistant. Today, the team has grown to several fulltime staff members, supplemented with freelance restorers whom the museum hires on a project basis. The workshop also offers an internship for students, a unique opportunity that has already been taken by numerous prospective restorers, including students from abroad.
Conservation versus restoration
- In a conservation treatment, the restorers stabilise the condition of the work. This generally happens through minimal interventions that usually do not result in striking visible improvements. Yet conservation is a key instrument to safeguard the collection for the future.
- Restoration usually encompasses a more extensive treatment than conservation. In addition to making the necessary conservational interventions, the restorers can also remove old layers of varnish and over-painting. This is a time-consuming process that is preceded by in-depth research and analysis. The restoration result is generally quite spectacular, as the colours, depth and readability of the painting are fully restored.
Over the past ten years, over eighty paintings from the museum's collection were restored. Most of the times, this happened in association with international supervisory commissions.
Current restoration projects in 2016
- Christ Surrounded by Singing and Music-making Angels by Hans Memling
- Epitaph of Nicolaas Rockox and His Wife Adriana Perez by Peter Paul Rubens
- Scaldis and Antverpia by Abraham Janssens
- Judith by Jan Massijs
- The Author Honoré de Balzac by Auguste Rodin
- Allegory of Imprudence by Joachim Beuckelaer
- The Banishment of Hagar and Ishmael by Pièrre Joseph Verhaghen
- Returning from Work by Henri Evenepoel
- Jan van der Voort et sa soeur Catharina by Ferdinand Bol
- The Arch of the Mint, front and reverse by Peter Paul Rubens
- Venus Frigida by Peter Paul Rubens at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
- Thomas Gerritzn Doesburch and Claesje Hendricksdr Roeclaes with their Daughters by an anonymous master by a private restorer
- Portrait of a Girl as Huntress by Cesar Boetius van Everdingen by a private restorer
- Sunday by Gustave De Smet at Rijksmuseum Twenthe
- The Holy Women and Saint John and Pilate' s Dispute with the High Priest by Gerard David at Getty Museum Los Angeles