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Subject: VeRes members visit Petersburg

VeRes members visit Petersburg

From: Bas van Velzen <eland>
Date: Monday, September 26, 1994
    **** Moderator's comments:   This posting was edited together from
    two separate messages. I've also Americanized some spellings for the
    sake of the database indexes. I hope I haven't mangled it too

To introduce myself: I am in the board of the Dutch association of
professional restorers "VeRes" (In Holland we use the term restorers for
them who work physically on collections, I believe they are called
conservators in America). In this board I am responsible for foreign

A group of Dutch restorers, and VeRes members, visited Petersburg from
10 to 24 September in an exchange program sponsored by the ministry of
culture. We held lectures together with Russian restorers on subjects
concerning the restoration and conservation of paper objects. After two
days of lecturing and watching educational videos we held workshops
during three days in ateliers in different institutions (Hermitage,
Russian museum, National library, Library of BAN). These workshops where
focused on introducing techniques based on traditional Japanese
techniques and the use of (modern) materials and tools. Also the storing
of works of art on paper was dealt with. Idelette van Leeuwen (Royal
Library, the Hague) worked on conservation bindings. We were happy that
also restorers from Moscow came to Petersburg. As a side effect of all
this there is now a Russian association of restorers in the making under
the patronage of the Lomonosow foundation. Responsible for this is
Natalia Kopaneva, she can be contacted through Victor Zacharov.

1996 will be the Peter the Great year in Holland: it is then 300 years
ago that the Russian Czar visited Holland to study then modern science,
and work, to learn the latest techniques, amongst others as shipbuilder.
For these reasons he lived for some time in our country. As this can't
pass unnoticed some exhibitions are now prepared, an exhibition will be
shown in both Petersburg (Hermitage?) and in the Amsterdam Historical

Objects have to be restored special for these exhibitions. In order to
see how western restorers work and which techniques and tools they use,
three Russian restorers from the National Academy of Science and the
Kunstkammer made a month-long trip to Holland in April 1993. Learning
(in the midst of a million other things) of the existence of the Dutch
Association of Professional Restorers, "VeRes", they later that year
asked VeRes what we could do to help them. VeRes replied that we would
do what was in our possibility: the association is manned by volunteers
and financial resources are not impressive.

Having a Petersburgian colleague in our midst a small workgroup was set
up to look into this further. In march 1994 a small conference was held
in Amsterdam about Peter the Great's visit to Holland with historians
from Petersburg. Among them was also Natalia Kopaneva, responsible for
foreign contacts. Skipping the many faxes and emails to Petersburg that
where sent before that date we concluded together with the people
involved that maybe a summer school was the right thing to organize.
Time was short and having limited resources we had to apply for a grant
by the ministry of culture. Therefore summer school became autumn

During our stay we learned that the situation in Russia is very
difficult; the availability of materials for example is not so
self-evident as it is in Holland. We did not go to Petersburg to tell
our colleagues how to do their work, we went to show and demonstrate how
we work so they can decide themselves what is good and useful in it.

The Dutch restorers involved where:

    Idelette van Leeuwen
    Book restorer
    Royal Library
    The Hague

    Irina Nan-Tsjeroenova
    Paper restorer
    Teylers museum
    Haarlem (Petersburgian by birth)

    Saskia Roos
    Free-lance paper restorer
    (Amsterdams Historisch Museum)

    Philip Meredith
    Paper restorer
    The Far East Conservation Centre

    Peter Poldervaart
    Head, Paper Conservation Dept.
    The Rijksmuseum

    Bas van Velzen
    Free-lance paper restorer
    Amsterdam Municipal Archive

About VeRes:

VeRes is the Dutch Association of Professional Restorers. The
association was founded in 1991 and had at that time 35 members. Today
we have 265 members (Holland has 16 million inhabitants). The
associations aim is to protect the interests of her members. To become a
member of VeRes each applicant is asked to sign the associations code of
ethics. Also one has to earn his income for the largest part by working
as restorer. To become a full member one must have done so for at least
4 years. The time it takes to study is counted as half, so a four year
education counts as two. We also have student and candidate members.

The signing of the code of ethics is taken very serious; if complaints
reach the board a committee of investigation is formed and when the
member has acted against the letter of the code he or she can be
expelled from the association (this has not happened so far, members
have received warnings though). Because of the differences in education
in Holland (a school for restoration exists only from 1988) the
association has chosen this approach as opposed to balloting new

In the three years of our existence we have achieved amongst other
things the following:

    *   the designing of a set of general conditions on which our
        members work, this protects client as well as restorer legally.

    *   the production of a list of members twice a year with the
        members profession and specialization. People can get the
        address(es) of a restorer(s) in a specific field in their

    *   members can buy materials at reduced prices with some

    *   the association attended fairs and answered many questions
        regarding addresses, quality of work &c.

    *   VeRes has regularly scheduled meetings with other associations
        in Holland to streamline activities, other associations include
        IIC, VAR and TRON whose interest are more specific centered
        towards the respective fields of restoration (VAR
        paperrestoration, TRON textile restoration).

    *   a variety of workgroups investigates subjects as; education,
        disaster plans, foreign associations, contracts, insurance.

    *   the association has become a member of  ECCO, the european
        association of restorers associations

    *   there are regular meetings with the staff of the Dutch school of

There remains a lot of work to do still to achieve the ultimate goal the
association has set herself: the certification of the profession of
restorer by the Dutch government. Up until now everybody can call
her/himself a restorer no matter what background or education. This can
often be a problem since such bungling and outside broking causes a lot
of damage to the name and reputation of sincere and professional

Bas van Velzen

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:24
                  Distributed: Sunday, October 2, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-8-24-004
Received on Monday, 26 September, 1994

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