Skokloster Summer Institute 2019

16 international conservators and museum curators were meeting up for a 13-days workshop at Skoklosters castle, at 3-15 june 2019. The Swedish National Historical Museums managed the project with conservator Ann-Cathrin Rothlind as project manager and curator Annika Williams as program manager. Here they share their experience from the Summer Institute.

There were many topics covered during the workshop and the faculty did an outstanding job of sharing their expertise. We discussed the shared responsibility in collection management, the importance of interdisciplinary communication between conservators and curators, and conservation scientists as well other specialists in the field of conservation and restoration. The fragility and durability of paintings on canvas, their natural aging or deterioration of materials needs to be viewed upon with respect of the integrity of the works and the intention of the artist intertwined with their social and historic context. These were the themes built in the structural conservation workshops, the state-of-the-art methods and materials presented and practiced.

Photograph: Jens Mohr

Case study paintings

The two case study paintings chosen for Skokloster Summer Institute to exemplify the preservation of objects of art in a uncontrolled non-museum environment kept in their original context were presented by our external consultants Professor Görel Cavalli-Björkman, former Head of Research at Nationalmuseum and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Sweden and Cultural Heritage Coordinator John Rothlind, Church of Sweden and former Head of Conservation Department at Nationalmuseum.

Structural conservation

Professor Karolina Soppa, Head of Paintings and Sculptures Conservation and Restorations Specialization, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern gave a five-day workshop in structural conservation both in theory and practice connected to the two case study paintings. A three-day workshop on Tear mending by Technical teacher Petra Demuth and PhD student in conservation Hannah Flock CICS (Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences), Cologne was also part of the training institute aiming at showing alternative treatment solutions when treating damaged canvas paintings. Professor Emeritus Jørgen Wadum, Director of CATS (Centre for Art Technological Studies), Copenhagen lectured on conservation ethics and historic changes of ground layers in paintings on canvas. Associate Professor Cecil Krarup Andersen, KADK (The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation), Copenhagen gave talks on the mechanical and structural behavior of canvas paintings unlined or lined. A recent lining technique called mist-lining was presented by Senior lecturer Tannar Ruuben, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki.

Photograph: Jens Mohr

Historical lining techniques

During a special workshop on historical lining techniques the participants and the faculty assessed the third case study painting The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt by Jacob Jordaens, dated 1652. Senior researcher and Conservation scientist SeppoHornytzkyj, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki lectured on the results and the limits of interpretation in general when using the non-destructive XRF-analysis regarding the material analysis made of the Skokloster Castle Jacob Jordaens.

Lectures presenting Skokloster Castle were manifold. Skokloster Castle Collections in context of the 17th century architecture was presented by Senior Lecturer Dr. Karin Wahlberg Liljeström, Uppsala University: the building and its restoration history was presented by Architect Dick Sandberg. Inger Olovsson, Curator, NHM, gave a talk on the estate inventories: Monica Sargren former Archivist and Curator at NHM, present Archivist the National Museums of World Culture gave an in-depth study of the Skokloster Castle library: the history and preservation of the Paintings Collection was presented by Ann-Cathrin Rothlind, Conservator, NHM: and the Historic House as a Document of Social Life was the theme of the talk given by Associate Professor Carin Bergström, former Director of Skokloster Castle.

Excursion day

During the excursion day the participants visited two reference collections the National Portrait Gallery founded in 1822, housed in the renaissance castle Gripsholm administered by the governmental authority Nationalmuseum in the city of Mariefred, guided by Curator Eva-Lena Karlsson, Nationalmuseum and John Rothlind, Cultural Heritage Coordinator, former Head of Conservation Department. The Collections and the 19th century town house, the Hallwyl Museum, in Stockholm, administered by the National Historical Museums was presented by the Curator of the Collections Annika Williams.

Photograph: Jens Mohr

The indepth study workshop

The Curatorial program included a workshop with in-depth studies of historic lining techniques, with Ann-Cathrin Rothlind, Conservator, NHM. The indepth study workshop Layers of History visited the permanent exhibition, the textile storeroom and linen turret with Curator Inger Olovsson, NHM: the Wrangel Armory with Curator Andreas Olsson, NHM. In her indepth workshop Curator Annika Williams, NHM discussed the “Intentions and Interventions”. What happens to the narrative frame constructed by the owners and the museum´s claim to authenticity at interventions at Skokloster Castle asking which layer shall be predominant in a historic house lived in for centuries.

Final Discussion

We are very appreciative of the information and views we have gathered during the Final Discussion through your input, and we will be producing a report on the outcome as a project deliverable. Thank you for your comments and suggestions on the evaluations and we assure you that each will be given consideration so that future workshops will be even more of a success.

The project team would like to thank all participants, lecturers and workshop leaders who came to the 13-day workshop Skokloster Summer Institute. We are very encouraged by the level of attendance and engagement during the training institute - with enthusiasm and positive spirit you contributed to make the workshop productive and fun! A big thank you goes to all our speakers and members of faculty: our keynote speakers Sarah Staniforth and Dr Christopher Ridgway. On behalf of the organizers we wish to give a big thank you to our venue collaboration partners: Skokloster Hotell & Restaurang, Café och Galleri Stenhuset, Stenhuset Skokloster, Owes Taxi, and Håbo Buss.

The Summer Institute were supported by Getty Foundation. 

About Getty Foundation

The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, it strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections, and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts.

For more information about Getty foundation