Shira (Songs and Poetry) Collection Conservation Project

The collection is comprised of paper and parchment objects, most of which are two-dimensional, though there are some booklets bound in paper covers. The objects are beautiful and impressive, and have survived the centuries relatively well.  Even so, since these pieces range from 100-300 years old, they naturally have begun to show signs of damage. These signs manifest as folds, wrinkles, tears, missing bits and attempts at home conservation using tape. On the objects made from parchment, the damage was most noticeable in the fading of the colored illuminations.

Upon receipt of the objects for conservation, the conservator always begins with the documentation of the restoration process:

  1. Photographing each of the objects from different perspectives in order to document the damage
  2. Measuring each object
  3. Determining the materials
  4. Writing a report about the state of the object upon its arrival for conservation
  5. A written recommendation about the type of restoration required and the materials needed to complete the work

During the conservation process new factors often come to light that require the reassessment of the original treatment proposal, and the work has to be adjusted to accommodate the unexpected.

An important piece of the restoration process is photographing the work that is being done to each of the objects. This allows conservators and museum professional to understand the various stages of the work, as well as offering a good way to compare the original state of the work to its newly restored finish.

The parchment and paper objects were cleaning using various methods, the wrinkles and folds were straightened as much as possible, and the missing pieces were filled in. With this type of work, the goal is to preserve the original as much as possible to ensure that its condition remains stable well into the future.

Even when the conservator finishes their work, the conservation process is not yet complete: each poem or song has been outfitted with a cover made especially for that piece. These covers are used to store the pieces and protect them from various types of damage that can occur when they are stored in the safe. Each cover is made from high quality materials that include glue without color, acid-free paper, proper fabrics for covers, and other such materials. These are all intended to provide the collection with a safe home in which it will be stored and protected for years to come.

The Italian Museum of Jewish Art would like to thank Miph’al HaPayis for their support in sponsoring this important project.