Conservation and Restoration | Sculpture
Department of Sculpture
This department is responsible for some 5000 sculptures in all of the Prussian palaces and park grounds, as well as sculptural elements on and in the buildings. The department also oversees cut stone objects, including approximately 250 tabletops, numerous decorative handcrafted objects and about 2500 m2 of flooring with floral and ornament designs.
The largest task is the care and restoration of sculptures mainly made of sandstone and marble. Their safe presentation according to conservational guidelines is this department’s ongoing concern. The guiding principle is to preserve an original sculpture at its original location in the parks and on the façades of the palaces in spite of exposure to weathering and other negative effects of outdoor conditions.
Continuous preventative care and conservation measures take priority. In the case of large projects, such as the restoration of more than 500 sandstone sculptures at the New Palace, the specialist department tests the required measures on prototypes. The needs for implementing these measures are posted publicly, which allows freelance restorers to also carry out the work under the SPSG’s supervision. With about 180 works, Sanssouci Park represents one of the largest collections of marble sculptures north of the Alps. Their preservation is also a main emphasis and includes collaborative work on national and international marble research projects.
If advanced weathering threatens the imminent loss of a sculpture, it is moved from the park into protective storage. In such cases, the work is replaced with a copy true to the original and in the same material to retain the tenor and expression of the affected ensemble. The highlight of this work was undoubtedly the restoration of the figural ensemble around the Great Fountain in Sanssouci Park, with copies of twelve French masterpieces from the 18th century.
The specialized area related to the stonecutting of colored natural stones with polishable surfaces has intensively developed since the 1980s. The variety of objects ranges from small-particle Pietra dura masterpieces to large-scale natural stone floors that are usable works of art. The Marble Hall and the Grotto Hall at the New Palace, each measuring 600 m2, are among the world’s largest designed natural stone surfaces. A long-year renovation campaign with select companies will allow the floors to be preserved for future generations.
Whether dealing with miniatures or several-ton sculptures, and whether a work is intended for exhibitions or permanent display, this department carries out all restoration measures needed to prepare each object for presentation, and ensures its safe transportation and installation.