Accueil Polychromies Secrètes
musée des Augustins
Mairie Toulouse

Restoring the collections,
one of the museum’s most vital missions

Since 1995, the City of Toulouse, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and sometimes the support of patrons (as in this case, where the BNP Paribas Foundation has contributed to the restoration of Nostre Dame de Grasse), has devoted a substantial amount to the preservation and restoration of the collections of the Musee des Augustins.

Restorers at work on Nostre Dame
de Grasse

Photo : Daniel Martin
In ten years, some six hundred works of art, sculptures and particularly paintings, have undergone interventions (some more intensive than others), all guided first and foremost by the desire to preserve these works as well as possible for future generations.

The museum has already had the opportunity to display some of this work during previous exhibitions devoted to its permanent collections (Réservé au public, Cent ans de sculptures, Palettes italiennes, Le Nord en lumières), but the subject of these exhibitions was primarily the history of art, not of restoration.

Polychromies Secretes aims to reveal both the – spectacular – results of several years’ work, and also the methods used to achieve them.

To a greater or lesser degree, these are the same for the different types of objects that make up the Museum’s collections. A first, long and tedious stage consists of making a brief health check on the collection, often during stocktaking of the permanent collections. Based on this, reports are drawn up by restorers indicating the precise extent and nature of any deterioration suffered by the works.

The decision to intervene and the nature of the intervention are determined according to numerous criteria:

Once the decision to intervene is taken, the museum issues an invitation to tender, on the basis of detailed proposals which are examined and classified according to the quality and relevance of the intervention proposed and also the cost.

In order to intervene on works in French museums, restorers must be experienced, with recognized qualifications or accredited skills acquired in the practice of their craft. The museum’s choice is then discussed and debated by a regional scientific commission.