The conservation workshop of icons in the Museum of Byzantine Culture is the oldest conservation workshop after the completion of the construction of the Museum’s building in 1993. Its total surface is 280 sq.m. It includes a room for the conservation of icons, an X-ray chamber, diagnostic workshop and carpentry. Aim of its operation is the preventive conservation, the conservation itself and the restoration of the works of painting in wood, textile, leather, and also of the Museum’s woodcuts. The conservation procedure of icons includes the conduct of certain diagnostic tests, which are carried out with the use of Museum’s means, and the documentation of all the operations and their metadata.
Initially the workshop was staffed with four conservators, who with minimum equipment started its operation. Their first work was the conservation of icons for the first exhibition of the Museum titled “Byzantine Treasures of Thessaloniki. The journey of return” in 1994. Subsequently the Museum housed the exhibition “Treasures of Mount Athos” in 1997. Gradually the equipment of the workshop was enriched, in order to contribute to the completion of the permanent exhibition of the Museum and to the preparation of many of temporary exhibitions.
The workshop – through the Museum – has carried out European programs of diagnosis and conservation of icons in collaboration with the European Centre of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments. It has also collaborated with the conservation workshops of icons of the following institutions: the National Museum of Medieval Art of Korytsa (Albania), the National Gallery of Arts of Sofia, the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art of the Diocese of Thessaloniki, the Holy Royal, Patriarchal and Stavropegic Vlatadon Monastery in Thessaloniki, the Holy Monastery of St. Dionysios on Mount Olympos, the Charitable Brotherhood of Gentlemen of Thessaloniki and the Child Asylum of Thessaloniki. Moreover, in collaboration with the European Centre of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments and the General Secretariat of Research and Technology (Ministry of Development) created a database, which contains the data of the technical investigation of post-Byzantine icons of the National Museum of Medieval Art of Korytsa.
Among the workshop’s actions are the participation in scientific congresses and the publications, which concern its work. In the field of research, diagnosis and archeometry the workshop collaborates with specialized research institutions, such as Museums, Universities and Diagnostic Centres.
The workshop’s operation has also an educational character. Students from university departments of conservation science from Greece and abroad are trained there in the frame of their practice. Moreover, its conservators organize guided tours inside the workshop for the public, for pupils and for students.
The conservation workshop of icons is aware of the progress made internationally in the field of conservation science. In addition to that it aims, alongside with the assessment of old and current methods and practices, to the continuous upgrading of the possibilities of diagnosis and of implementation of new methods.