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Training for Conservators from the Hermitage Museum

2016 Training Program for Russian Conservators

NEDCC recently hosted a three-week training program for conservators from the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Graphic Works (LSRGW) at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  The LSRGW is one of the oldest laboratories in the State Hermitage Museum. Since its inception, the Laboratory has conserved about 25,000 works of graphic art of various techniques, as well as books and documents from the State Hermitage Museum Archives. The Laboratory experts conserve fine art prints, watercolors, works in gouache, pastels, miniature drawings, Asian art, books, and documents. The collections date from the 15th century up to the present day.  Laboratory staff members also conduct systematic surveys of the museum collections in order to determine preservation needs of the collections.

The Participants
Daria Smirnova has been with the State Hermitage Museum since 2008, and specializes in the treatment of library and archival materials made of paper or parchment, including Western European, Russian, and Chinese graphics objects.  She is a graduate of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts Art History program.  Daria participated in a previous conservation training program at NEDCC in 2011.

Dinara Mamina joined the State Hermitage Museum staff in 2013 and focuses on restoration of Western European and Russian engravings, lithographs, drawings, books, and archival material from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Dinara is a graduate of the Forest Technical Academy with a specialization in pulp and paper technology.

Suren Asaturyan has worked at the State Hermitage Museum since 2014, and specializes in 18th to 20th century book conservation, working with printed sheets and manuscripts, as well as leather and paper bindings. Suren holds a degree in fine art restoration from Roerich Art College, and is currently studying Art History at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.

(Top photo: Left to right: Visiting conservator Dinara Mamina, NEDCC Senior Book Conservator Todd Pattison, visiting conservators Suren Asaturyan and Daria Smirnova, and NEDCC Assistant Book Conservator Graham Patten)

Hands-on Learning

The conservators gained practical experience in conservation techniques including surface cleaning, testing solubility of colors, light bleaching, mending, aqueous treatment, lining with Japanese paper, media consolidation, and treatment of parchment. In the Book Conservation Lab, they practiced repairs and leafcasting to fill losses, various types of sewing structures, and several binding methods. They were also instructed on best practices for photographic documentation of conservation treatments. 


The interns practice mending with Assistant Book Conservator Graham Patten in NEDCC's Book Conservation Lab.



Suren Asaturyan practices lifting leather from the spine of a bound volume.


Dinara Mamina works with mending strips made of fine Japanese paper during her training in NEDCC's Book Conservation Lab.



Daria Smirnova applies a Japanese paper mend on a disbound volume leaf.



The interns enjoyed the collegial atmosphere at the Center. Here, Suren visits with paper conservator Audrey Jawando and Asian Art Fellow Wan Chen-Tseng in the NEDCC staff lunchroom.




Associate Book Conservator Kiyoshi Imai describes the process of leafcasting, in which losses are filled in book pages or documents.



Kiyoshi Imai demonstrates the operation of the leafcaster for Dinara Mamina.



The interns with Michael Lee, NEDCC Director of Paper and Photograph Conservation.



The NEDCC staff enjoyed working with Daria, Dinara, and Suren.




A local Andover family hosted a dinner for staff and interns at the conclusion of the training program. Looks delicious!


During their stay in Andover, the interns visited local institutions including Harvard University, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston to observe the layout and operation of different conservation laboratories.  At the conclusion of their session at NEDCC, the group traveled to Washington DC to visit the conservation labs at the National Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress.

Daria Smirnova comments on the value of the program, “The internship was informative because in quite a short period of three weeks, we had a chance to take part in the many of the processes of conservation for paper, parchment, and books. It was a pleasure to visit other conservation laboratories as well.”


The 2016 training program for Hermitage professionals was funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation. For more than 20 years, the Foundation has partnered with the State Hermitage Museum to modernize the Museum's ongoing conservation activities and to help support conservation training programs. The Hermitage Museum, which began in 1754, is one of the oldest museums in the world with over 3 million works of art in six buildings.


Story by Julie Martin NEDCC