For the first time, the Russian State Art Library (RSAL) website presents materials about the work of restoring and preserving historical rarities.
The restoration of documents from the library’s collections, including visual materials, has been under active development in RSAL since the early 2000s, when a scientific approach to solving preservation issues was established. The exhibition introduces the restoration of daguerreotypes, photographs, engravings, postcards, applied graphics, and documents, carried out in a number of organisations, including the Photography Restoration Workshop of the State Historical Museum and the Graphics Restoration Department of the Grabar Art Conservation Centre. In 2013, the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Paper Art Materials was organised and began its work in RSAL, where art materials from the library’s collection are annually transferred for restoration.
The exposition presents not only visuals of restored documents, but also describes in detail the technological processes that make it possible to slow down the destructive effects of time, long-term storage, and use. The exhibition also introduces the history of documents, which sometimes become detective investigations to establish the age of the document, its author, and the identity of the people depicted in historical photographs.
Many documents came to RSAL from private archives, which make them especially interesting for researchers. For example, postcards of the late 19th-early 20th centuries from the family archive of the first director of the library Alexander Fomin and his wife, Sofia Fomina; a photograph donated by the founder and owner of a private opera theatre Sergei Zimin; and a photograph of the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, taken in the famous French atelier of Charles Reutlinger.
Link to virtual exhibition