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Conserving a cultural treasure

Priceless artworks from one of Norway’s oldest churches are being restored by specialists from the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Stavanger (UiS).

Painting restorer Hilde Smedstad Moore and her colleagues are in full swing with the 16th and 17th century gems from St Mary’s Church in Bergen.

They are scheduled to restore no less than 27 items which normally adorn this historic building, the oldest church in the west Norwegian city.

Both Moore and Anne Ytterdal, acting head of the restoration department at the museum, are excited at being allowed to work with these national treasures.

“We couldn’t have a more interesting challenge than this,” says Ytterdal.

In addition to 23 paintings and epitaphs or memorial plaques, the museum team will be restoring what is described as Norway’s finest mediaeval triptych, a large crucifix and the pulpit canopy. This will be done in situ.

The process involved in all restoration of ecclesiastical artworks in Norway is closely monitored by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage.

After documenting what needs to be done with each piece, the restorers produce a proposal for the job which must be approved by the directorate before work can start.

The restoration specialists use microscopes, X-rays and ultraviolet and infrared light in addition to their eyes and expertise to judge what the artworks require.

Moore has devoted some 200 hours to the painting she will soon be sending back to the church. Dust, pollution and other deposits have been cleaned off, and old varnish removed.

Text: Ragnhild Nordahl Næss
Photo: Terje Tveit
Translation: Rolf E Godderham

Last edited by Ragnhild Nordahl Næss (08.05.2012)

Print print symbol
Photo of Anne Ytterdal working with a piece of art from St Mary's church in Bergen. Foto: Terje Tveit
Anne Ytterdal is head of the conserving department at the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Stavanger (UiS). She finds art pieces from the St Mary's church in Bergen exciting work. Photo: Terje Tveit
Picture of Hilde Smesdad Moore, in the process of restoring a work of art.
Hilde Smestad Moore has spent around 200 hours conserving this painting from St Mary's in Bergen. Photo: Terje Tveit
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