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art conservation and restoration

Restoration Emergencies

The flood in Florence, Italy, in Nov., 1966, was among the greatest disasters in modern history in terms of the destruction of works of art. Conservators and restorers from all over the world applied emergency treatment to the treasures of painting, sculpture, and architecture that could be saved. Among those were five panels from the bronze doors of the Baptistery by Ghiberti, which had been ripped apart and ruined by the furious, oily waters. In replacing them experts made use of an exact replica of the doors in San Francisco. In 1972, Michelangelo's Pietá in St. Peter's, Rome, was attacked and mutilated by a madman with a hammer. The most delicate restoration work was required to make unobtrusive repairs on this masterpiece of sculpture. A number of well-known paintings also have been damaged by attackers in recent years, and these, too, have been restored as unobtrusively as possible. In a more recent emergency, a 1997 earthquake centered in the Italian town of Assisi damaged many works of art, most notably its 13th-cent. basilica. An international team worked on restoring its architectural and sculptural elements as well as its fragile frescoes. In late 1999 the newly earthquake-proofed and nearly completely restored basilica was reopened to the public; Giotto frescoes on two ceiling vaults still await restoration.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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