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
- Christ Surrounded by Musician Angels by Hans Memling
- Calvary by Antonello da Messina
Important restoration projects from the past
- The Seven Sacraments by Rogier van der Weyden
- Madonna at the Fountain by Jan van Eyck
- Pope Alexander VI Presenting Jacopo Pesaro to Saint Peter by Titian
- Festival of the Archers by the Master of Frankfurt
- Portrait of Stephanus Geeraerdts, Haarlem Alderman by Frans Hals
- Philippe de Croy by Rogier van der Weyden
- The Intrigue by James Ensor
- The Prodigal Son by Peter Paul Rubens
- The Clergyman Eleazar Swalmius by Rembrandt - Thanks to the restoration of the portrait could finally be attributed to the Dutch master!
- The Fame of the Antwerp School by Niçaise De Keyser
- The Stroll by Roger Raveel
- Flowers in a Vase by Jan Breughel I
- Man with a Roman Coin by Hans Memling
- Saint Mary Magdalene by Quinten Metsijs
- The Dauphin Francis,Son of Francis I by Jean Clouet