As part of the renovations led by Foster + Partners architects, a new and spacious studio was created for the Lenbachhaus’s department of conservation and restoration. The work of its staff, three painting conservators and one graphic art conservator, has four main foci:

Conservation and restoration of the collections

Our work begins with preventive conservation. This includes all the various ways in which works of art and their environment need to be prepared to ensure the lasting preservation of the art and prevent damage. Paintings and graphic art require precise climate control, appropriate illumination, secure installation and mechanical protection, and, in some instances—consider Erwin Wurm’s textile works or Joseph Beuys’s objects—protection against insects. Especially delicate art is presented in individually manufactured microclimate frames.
Regular examination of the works in the collection helps us understand their particularities better. All paintings by the “Blue Rider” are framed with anti-glare museum glass and protective back covers. Special mounting systems secure the works in position.
Graphic art is preserved using acid-free mattes and book boxes. The temporary picture frames designed especially for our collection allow for a presentation that is aesthetically appealing while meeting conservational requirements. Most recently, we reframed the almost 800 picture plates of Gerhard Richter’s “Atlas.”

Conservation practice also includes certain interventions into the work itself, like the stabilization of paint layers or the consolidation of picture media such as the cardboards on which the artists of the “Blue Rider” painted, which have tended to become frayed. Such interventions are designed to maintain the original substance. Beyond such maintenance, restoration also involves techniques such as varnish removal, the use of adhesives to repair mechanical damage, retouching, and many other interventions. As the restoration of Franz von Stuck’s “Salome” in time for the inauguration of the renovated Lenbachhaus illustrates, such restoration work may be quite extensive.

Newly purchased works of contemporary art frequently require no restoration at all. In these instances, we focus on conservation widely conceived, including the compilation of documentation. We record information, including information provided by the artist, about the substance of the work. New works often raise difficult and unusual questions: What is the right way to glue synthetic materials? How does one restore monochrome painted surfaces? How should video art be conserved? And how to restore contemporary photography? Attending conferences and exchanging ideas with other experts are important ways for us to stay involved in the discussion on these and other issues.

Preparing art for shipment to other institutions and loan supervision

When the Lenbachhaus receives a loan request, we first examine whether the object in question is suitable for transportation. It is then restored if necessary, framed with protective glass, and put in a special packing case. The condition of the work and any unusual features are recorded in inspection reports. Delicate and high-value works travel accompanied by a courier. In collaboration with the consignee, we work to ensure optimum climate control, safe shipment, and appropriate hanging of our art.

Work for exhibitions at the Lenbachhaus

In preparation for the museum’s own exhibitions, we devote considerable resources to the careful restoration of works from our collections; for example, the Franz Marc retrospective in 2005–2006 occasioned the restoration of his “Blue Horse,” and Kandinsky’s “Colorful Life” was restored for “Kandinsky—Absolut. Abstrakt” in 2008–2009. The show “Kunst ist schön, macht aber viel Arbeit” in 2012–2013 presented an opportunity to prepare a large number of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper as well as photographs for the new presentation at the Lenbachhaus.
Before special exhibitions, we examine the condition of the art, the indoor climate, and the lighting. We determine the correct packaging and work closely with the Lenbachhaus’s exhibition installation team. We inspect loans and install them together with the couriers accompanying them. While the show is on view, we monitor the works at regular intervals and clean them when necessary. Once the exhibition closes, we supervise the process of packing the art up for shipping and examine its condition one last time before it leaves the Lenbachhaus.

Studies in the technology of art

The extensive and diverse holdings of the Lenbachhaus present opportunities for numerous research projects. We are especially interested in the painting techniques used by the creators of our most valuable collection, the art of the “Blue Rider.” Even individual works, such as Franz von Stuck’s “Salome,” which underwent extensive restoration during the closure of the Lenbachhaus, may become subjects of studies and publications.

Select an artist from the submenu on the right to learn more about our research into specific aspects of the technology of art.