Conservation News from Russia

state_hermitage_museumsmall.jpgPhoto 1: State Hermitage Museum and Alexander Column on Palace Square.

Just before the holidays, our conservator of photographs Sylvie Pénichon visited the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia where she taught a workshop on contemporary photographs. The course was part of the Hermitage Photograph Conservation Initiative funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) ( The goal of this initiative is to foster the exchange of ideas among Russian, French, and American colleagues, and to help establish a department of photograph conservation at the State Hermitage Museum.

The course reviewed the trends and challenges of collecting contemporary photographs, including process identification, mounting techniques, and materials used by photographers today, as well as current museum practice for exhibition and storage of contemporary photographs. One of the highlights of Pénichon’s visit was to witness the inauguration of the new offsite storage facility center, which will host the museum’s conservation facilities and storage vaults. Located in the Staraya Derevnja neighborhood, the new facility is readily accessible by subway. Transfer of most of the Hermitage’s collections (roughly 2.5 million items) to the new facility will begin in 2013.

hermitage_new_storage_facilitysmall.jpgPhoto 2: View of the new storage and conservation facility in Staraya Derevnja.

tatyana_sayatinasmall.jpgPhoto 3: Tatyana Sayatina, Head of the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Photographic Materials, proudly shows the new cold storage unit where the photograph collection will soon be stored.

avtovo_subway_stationsmall_0.jpgPhoto 4: The Avtovo subway station platform. Just one of the many beautiful stations constructed during the Soviet era, likely to make any commuter feel like royalty.