For years, the Ceramics and Metal Conservation Workshop of the National Museum in Lublin has been working for the needs of the Museum and other institutions. This activity has been gradually developed along with the modernisation efforts. We are currently carrying out conservation works covering items from archaeological, ethnographic, numismatic and artistic crafts collections. We specialise in the conservation of historic items made of ceramics and various metals. While the conservation of ceramic artefacts is concerned, our activities mainly relate to archaeological objects and include, apart from cleaning, strengthening, gluing and supplementing, reconstructing of objects for exhibition purposes.
The metal objects we work with are mostly archaeological objects and numismatic items. Next to them, a large group of ethnographic monuments can be found, as well as military items and artistic craftsmanship – objects made of alloys of various metals: from iron, copper, brass, tin to silver and gold alloys. The great variety of materials used is often a problem in the conservator’s work, at times making it difficult to fulfil the task. Proper diagnosis of corrosion damage, determination of the type of corrosion process and the resulting forms of damage to the material is the primary activity when undertaking any conservation measures leading to the cleaning and protection of the object. The aim of the conservation of metal objects or elements in a historic building should be, first of all, to stop corrosion processes. It can be done by removing the layers, restoring the object to its original form, as much as possible, and implementing the most effective protection against further deterioration. All corrosion phenomena have a huge impact on the appearance as well as the artistic and functional aspects of the object. As a result of the physicochemical processes, it loses its technical and technological values, and with time it can be completely destroyed. Some types of corrosion cause irreversible damage, even if at first glance they do not cover a large part of the object. There are many methods of cleaning such damage. The nature of the object, the type of material from which it was made, the state of preservation and causes of damage, as well as many other conditions mean that various measures and methods are used in the process of conservation and restoration. All these activities must guarantee the item’s full security, so not every method can be used to its full extent. The best results are achieved by using the advantages of several methods, and as a result, the most thorough cleaning of the object, which is decisive for the effectiveness of other conservation treatments.
Commonly used methods of conservation of metal objects consist mainly of chemical and mechanical removal of corrosion products and other layers (e.g. old paint coatings), stabilisation of corrosion processes with appropriately selected chemicals, and then protection of the surface against the influence of adverse environmental factors.
For this type of work, we use various devices, tools and preparations – from the simplest, known from everyday life, to more advanced, specialised ones – created in laboratories and research workshops for the needs of conservators. Many activities, often extremely time-consuming and sometimes posing a potential threat to the structure and condition of the object – thanks to modern methods and devices – are carried out in a manner consistent with the latest research on the conservation of monuments. All activities carried out by us guarantee the preserved item’s full safety, the integrity of their structure, and often the preservation of important traces that are part of the history of the monument.