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Wall Paintings and decorated architectural surfaces

Blick in die Werkstatt

Paleolithic cave paintings are considered to be the earliest and most impressive examples of the attempt by man to paint an environment he used. Since those times it has become a tradition in many cultures to decorate the domestic ambience, the places of cult as well as of public and political life. The palette ranges from artistically excellent wall painting to artisanal, simple painting. They are expression among others personal style, local tradition, cultural aspirations, social affiliation and, of course, functional considerations.

While architecture-related decorations and frames are often rated lower in terms of their artistic quality than wall paintings, there is no such clear difference in terms of material and design: the techniques - fresco, tempera, sgraffito, stucco, etc. - are the same. And something else unites work of art and handicraft product: As human-made matter, both are subject to thermodynamic processes. Their matter undergoes a slow transformation and ultimately its destruction. The aim of conservation and restoration can therefore only be to slow down this natural course of destruction.

Wall painting and decorated architectural surface at the Department of Conservation and Restoration

The multitude of materials and techniques in which murals and decorated architectural surfaces have been carried out over time suggests setting priorities. Indeed, the focus is on Europe with its wall paintings and decorated architectural surfaces (even if the department has been involved in the conservation / restoration of wall paintings in Tibetan temples for years). On the basis of historical sources, scientific studies as well as corresponding illustration material, an insight into the history of artistic techniques, local and temporal features etc. is given. Of course, this also applies to the specific damage processes and damage patterns as well as to the usual examination and documentation methods and preventive measures.

Experience abroad

The department encourages students to gain experience in institutions abroad. Thanks to the good cooperation with the International Office of the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt (scholarship brokerage) and the international contacts, around half of the students specializing in wall paintings and decorated architectural surfaces complete a practical semester abroad. Final theses are now also being written about objects and experiences there.

These topics are embedded in general science and humanities lessons. Due to the technical overlap with the teaching content of the other major subjects in the Department of Conservation and Restoration, their lectures prove to be an ideal complement.

Practical restoration work as a corrective to theoretical knowledge

During the project times, which are carried out two times three weeks each semester, the students work on selected objects of art and cultural historical significance. They have the opportunity, under the guidance and supervision of their specialist professor, to thoroughly examine, conserve and restore the objects that are located in Thuringia and the whole of Germany and, if necessary, continue to look after them in terms of conservation (see: Projects). The studies - for example of the microclimate, the wall moisture, the salt load, the biological infestation or also of plasters, pigments, binders, component and coatings sequences - are carried out by the students with the respective specialists. They are then prepared for this in the corresponding theoretical lectures.

The "structural load" of the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, the Bauhaus University Weimar and University of Bamberg, with which the Department of Conservation and Restoration works, proves to be a particular advantage for the study focus on wall paintings and decorated architectural surfaces: The departments of architecture, civil engineering, landscape architecture (climatology, wood anatomy, wood pests, etc.), Supply technology (heating systems) offer special lessons tailored to the needs of the major. During their studies, the students practice interdisciplinary work and get to know the different approaches and ways of thinking of their future work partners.

Restoration of Wallpaper

After taking over the wallpaper collection of the Thuringian State Office for Monument Preservation, which has been compiled over more than thirty years, students have the opportunity to take an optional look at the conservation and restoration of wallpaper.

The interlocking of theory and practice that we practice allows us to put theoretically acquired knowledge into practice and, above all, to check its validity.


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