Conference on decorative printed paper at Museu Picasso

The presentation of the process of restoring the Palau Aguilar’s 16th-century polychrome printed wallpaper recovered in 2010 (see the article on the website) was a perfect opportunity for a professional get-together on Monday the 12th.

The director of the Museu Picasso, Pepe Serra, opened the conference with a reminder of the important contribution made by technical expertise (materials, creative processes, etc) in the documentation not only of the museum’s collections and also of its buildings.

Restoring the roof of the Palau AguilarRestoring the roof of the Palau Aguilar

Restoring the Palau Aguilar’s ceiling

After a brief introduction to the medieval palaces and the principal historical alterations made to them, the restorers Jesus Zornoza, Mònica Guitart and Beatriu Montoliu from the team coordinated by the museum’s Conservation and Restoration Department gave a detailed description of the restoration process and the presentation criteria adopted.

This prompted general discussion by the participants of a variety of subjects such as the permitted limits of an intervention, the stability of old wood as a support and the excellent quality of the rag paper made in the Mediterranean during the 15thand 16th centuries, as a reason for the good state of conservation of the wall coverings.

The scientific contribution was supplied by Sarah Boularand, of the Universitat de Barcelona, ??who detailed the methodology used to identify the materials found on the ceiling of the Palau Aguilar.

In the round-table, the interrelationship among the so-called minor or applied arts was the common strand connecting different disciplines. Blanca López de Arriba, a specialist in polychrome restoration, gave an exposition of the systems used to decorate musical instruments in16th-century Flanders and the similarities with the manufacture of printed papers in the same period.

Conference on decorative printed paper Speakers during the conference
Speakers during the conference. Photo: Reyes Jimenez

Elvira Gaspar, an expert on the conservation of paper, outlined the differences between the keeping of objects made of paper (screens, fans, etc) in private collections and in museums, and the very different approaches to interventions in the cultural heritage in the East and the West.

Àngels Bello and Carme Borrell from the B2 studio concluded the round-table with a discussion of the always controversial subject of temporary exhibitions and the uses and abuses of paper objects, which opened up a debate on the possibility of displaying facsimiles or digitized replicas instead of original documents.

Attendees and speakers during the break
Attendees and speakers during the break

Finally, Raquel Lacuesta of the Diputació de Barcelona presented some very interesting historical documentation and offered access to the archives of the Local Architectural Heritage Service as an in valuable first step prior to any intervention in the built heritage.

This interdisciplinary conference was attended by representatives of the Arxiu Històric, the library of the Universitat de Barcelona, the Escola Superior de Conservació i Restauració, the MNAC, the Print Museum and specialists in the conservation and restoration of graphic documents.

Reyes Jiménez
Head of the Preventive Conservation and Restoration Department

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