New Museum of Berlin – The Schievelbein Frieze

Conservation and Restoration of the Schievelbein Frieze in the Greek Courtyard

The Last Days of Pompeii” inspired by the novel of the same name by Edward Bulwer-Lytton was created as a three-quarters-cast figural frieze in Hermann Schievelbein’s workshop, brought in with a method for attaching plaster, and completed in 1851. At roughly 65 metres in length, it was the Neues Museum’s largest single artwork. As a direct consequence of World War II, it was significantly damaged in both body and appearance, contributed to by over forty years of subsequent neglect

NMU-1945

The restoration of the frieze took place in several stages, interrupted by long pauses for regular revisions providing information on the condition. Following a textbook restoration of the figure of Luna in 1996, the first stages from 1997 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2002 were largely centred around cleaning the frieze and strengthening the body. At this time, the Greek Courtyard had only a makeshift cover, so the work needed to be designed with weather exposure in mind. Numerous faults and fissures were caught or sealed with reinforcing additions using the affixation technique.

The final phase of restoration between 2007 and 2008 primarily involved settling and unifying an image that had, till then, been rather disparate. By this stage, the frieze was considered to be fully preserved and the Greek Courtyard was now protected from the elements. The surface work, with all its additions, was made uniform, further planned additions were carried out, and a semi-transparent limewash was finally applied over the entirety.

Client

Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung Berlin

Stiftung Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Period

1996 – 2008

Publication
Thomas Lucker, Schievelbeinfries, in: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin [Hrsg.], et al.: Das Neue Museum Berlin – Konservieren, Restaurieren, Weiterbauen im Welterbe. Leipzig: Seemann, 2009
Links

Museumsportal Berlin, Schievelbeins Fries “Die Zerstörung Pompejis”

Novel “The Last Days of Pompeii, by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton