Key responsibilities of the museum’s in-house conservation department are the conservation, restoration and general care of the extensive inventory, as well as taking care of works on loan for temporary exhibitions.
To make sure the works stored and presented at the museum remain in good condition, measures of pre-emptive conservation are employed: monitoring of the indoor climate, securing of objects and optimising the presentation of objects in adequate framing and display systems. An important research contribution are the detailed visual inspections regarding material selection, techniques of painting and polychromy, as conducted by the restorers in close cooperation with the curators.
By means of texts, photos and visualisations of sequences of settings, the current exhibition presents the technological examination of a wooden sculpture created around 1530.
It is presumably a depiction of a mourning Mary under the cross or a Mary from a burial scene, carved by a sculptor from Ulm or Upper Swabia whose name is unknown. It is made of lime wood with several polychrome settings.
It was examined at the Institute for Conservation and Restoration of Paintings and Painted Sculptures at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. The student Anna-Laura Scheiger carried out the investigation in 2020 as part of her bachelor’s thesis.
In several areas of the current setting, “exposure windows” from earlier times can be found. Here it could be seen that the sculpture has been painted over several times. This aroused the curiosity to find out how the original version was designed. For only knowledge of the various layers of the setting and their state of preservation makes it possible to draw up a restoration concept and, finally, also the possibility of a better historical and art-historical classification.
Holes left by wood pests showed that at certain times the sculpture was infested by the so-called “woodworm”, which weakened the substance. In addition, there are losses of the wood substance – the loss of the original nose is particularly disturbing. It has been replaced by a poorly carved addition; a metal nail serves to fix it in place. The mounts also show more or less severe damage to the surfaces.