Restoration and Conservation Centre of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia
The Restoration and Conservation Centre of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia is primarily responsible for the archival records managed by the Slovenian national archives and the archival records held by regional archives. It is also responsible for other vulnerable Slovenian written and graphic heritage and works of fine arts on paper. Its work is related to restoration and conservation procedures, the preventive physical protection of archival records, and the provision of advisory services. The centre provides professional assistance and support to other Slovenian institutions and individuals.
In Slovenia, as in most European countries, the restoration and conservation service for archival records on parchment and paper began to develop shortly after the Second World War. In 1956 a restoration section for the conservation and restoration of the records that were damaged during the war was established, under the leadership of Ljudimila Krese, as part of the then National Liberation Museum, now the National Museum of Contemporary History. Since other institutions were also interested in the protection of recent and old records, the section soon began providing services for many archives, libraries and museums. In January 1980 the restoration section of the museum, at that time headed by Nada Čučnik-Majcen, became part of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia and moved into the Archives’ adapted premises in the Gruber Palace at Zvezdarska ulica 1 in Ljubljana, where it continues its work to this day.
Conservation and restoration specialists who are responsible for the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage do not differentiate between records in terms of content, but are primarily interested in the material itself, damage caused to that material and procedures for its restoration and conservation.
In addition to its regular restoration and conservation work, the Centre provides continuing education and expert training courses to its staff, is dedicated to research work, and issues publications to help conservation, archival, library, museum and gallery experts.
In order to draw public attention to its activities and to raise the level of expertise in this line of work, the Centre regularly organises theoretical and practical courses and seminars, and occasionally also symposiums and exhibitions, and issues various publications.
It draws attention to the increasing importance of preventive protection of:
- older archival records: medieval codices, parchment documents, seals, manuscript and printed books, maps, plans, etc. Older written and fine arts heritage, due to its uniqueness and the materials used, is highly valuable and well worth being appropriately protected and respected, but there are still too many archival records in the Centre’s collections that have been damaged or are vulnerable and in need of most urgent protection or more appropriate premises;
- recent archival records (created in this century): photographs, plans, fine arts works, files and material printed on various kinds of paper with various means of writing. Recent archival records, particularly records created at the end of the 19th century and in the 20th century, present a considerable challenge for conservation and restoration specialists and custodians of collections due to their sensitivity, lesser durability and the large quantities of such records and are in this regard very problematic for experts.
The Centre works with archivists, librarians, curators, gallery owners and other stakeholders to safeguard the endangered cultural heritage. Specific methods of conservation and restoration are left to the professional discretion of restoration specialists, while the responsibility for storage conditions lies mainly with the broader society, which often does not have sufficient regard to the need for such investments.