The history of the workshop begins in 1924, when textensive collections of paintings from the Hermitage, the Rumyantsev Museum and the State Museum Fund were transferred to The Pushkin State Museum. Within the walls of the museum, in different periods worked such renown conservators as M. Yukhnevich, V. Yakovlev, P. Korin, S. Churakov, and G. Karlsen, who laid the foundation for the paintings conservation workshop. Throughout the years, our conservators have brought to life hundreds of paintings that form the basis of the permanent collection of the museum. In the post-war years, large-scale conservation works on the masterpieces from the Dresden National Gallery were carried out in the museum.
Our collection of paintings is constantly replenished with new acquisitions. In 1948, due to the closing of the State Museum of New Western Art, about 300 works of impressionists and post-impressionists were transferred to the museum. The Museum of Private Collections created in 1985 is a home to pieces of ancient Russian art and paintings of Russian artists, avant-garde artists, as well as contemporary artists. The variety of museum depositories requires a high level of professional skills from a conservator, and the ability to work with various techniques. In the workshop, there is no division into separate sections based on the specific nature of the conserved paintings (oil, tempera, or mixed media) as it is customary in some other museums. Instead, we have art conservators specializing in both tempera and oil paintings, as well as a conservator of wooden boards.
Each piece upon entering the workshop is subjected to a thorough technical and technological survey. The process of conservation treatments must be approved and controlled by the Museum Conservation Council. In addition to conservation itself, the duties of our conservators include regular inspections of the state of preservation of paintings in the exposition and depositaries. Because of how extensive the exhibition activity of the museum is, the conservators have to actively participate in preparations for the exhibitions, carry out the necessary conservation treatments, prepare exhibits for transportation, check their state of preservation, fill in the accompanying documentation.
A contemporary museum conservator must perfectly master and use not only the traditional methods of restoration and conservation, but also constantly expand their knowledge of the latest technologies and materials, get acquainted with the experience and discoveries of the colleagues from other museums. In this regard, the workshop staff constantly improve their professional levels by participating in various conservation conferences, seminars and master classes.