After Installation Comes De-Installation

Conservation Work on the Boris Lurie Exhibition

Alicija Steczek with a work of Boris Lurie

Conservator Alicija Steczek in front of a work of Boris Lurie; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Lohrengel

Visitors to our exhibition “No Compromises! The Art of Boris Lurie” (further information on our website) do not usually realize that they are viewing the result of lengthy groundwork and complex collaboration between various divisions of the museum. Those involved include, among others, employees of the temporary exhibition department, the registrars who for example take care of loans and organize shipments, and us conservators. We were already on board a year and a half before the exhibition was installed. Our work continues for the duration, only coming to an end with the closing and removal of the show in early August.

Boris Lurie’s art is fascinating and very variegated as to materials. Our work to protect it is thus correspondingly elaborate.  continue reading

Conservation of Letters and Seals

Letter from 19th century adressed to Emanuel Mendel

Letter accompanying the award certificate for the Order of the Red Eagle, Fourth Class, bestowed upon Emmanuel Mendel © Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Wolfang Schönpflug, photo: Ulrike Neuwirth

A huge number of objects enter the collection of the Jewish Museum Berlin every year. Each must be inventoried and studied. Many of these items have a long history, often having circled the globe. Having survived flights, emigration and decades of storage, some documents are in such bad shape, they cannot be used without further damaging them. As paper conservators, our task is to at least conserve, if not restore, these objects, so that they can again be handled without exposing them to additional wear and tear.

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Ich glaub’ nie mehr an eine Frau (Never Trust A Woman)—The Sound for the Film

There are films slumbering in an archive somewhere, waiting to be discovered. And there are films that have sunk into oblivion but then suddenly pop up again, in the form of a soundtrack.

packages of schellac records

The schellac records, as found © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photo: Regina Wellen

Recently, when stock was being moved to another depot, our colleague Regina Wellen looked over the collection of 78rpm schellac records with a view to devising a new way of storing them. She thereby came across eleven not yet inventoried records, much larger than the usual sort and with a label suggestive of some other purpose than easy listening on the home gramophone. Luckily for us, Regina was quickly able to establish that these were examples of the sound-on-disc recordings played in cinemas as an accompaniment to screenings of otherwise silent films—synchronously, thanks to the built-in start signal. One of the twenty numbered boxes on each label used to be checked after each screening, so as to ensure that a worn-out record would be replaced in good time. After Regina had dry-cleaned the records and prepared  continue reading