On a daily basis the seven restorers carry out activities of restoration, ordinary maintenance and emergency repair. On the occasion of exhibitions or special events it is also necessary to monitor and supervise all phases of movement, transportation and display of the artefacts involved.
While the use of traditional materials such as wool, silk and linen has been maintained faithfully over time, the introduction of technologically innovative threads and fabric or of high technology tools such as the dyeing machine and mechanical looms has offered valid support to the activity of maintenance, cleaning, dyeing and restoring the works.
The Laboratory is equipped with special machines and pulleys able to move extremely delicate tapestries of up to ten metres long, as well as specially constructed mechanical looms that, to enable both the verso and recto of the works to be checked, are able to rotate even up to 360 degrees. There is also a large basin for the delicate cleansing of the works using water and surface-active substances, and a sophisticated machine for dyeing threads and small supports which, thanks to an innovative software, allows colours to be faithfully reproduced.
Through its decision to adopt restoration criteria that privilege the conservation of the artefact, respecting the fundamental principles of recognisability, reversibility and non-invasiveness, the laboratory also abides by a specific and strict protocol for the implementation of every type of restoration activity. Every type of intervention is indeed preceded by accurate graphic and photographic documentation and detailed diagnostic procedures. This is then followed by mechanical cleaning with the removal, where necessary, of the results of previous restoration works, then preparation for washing and chemical cleansing. The entire process is concluded with the dyeing of supports and threads and the final consolidation of deteriorated areas to preserve and conserve the item. The careful study of a suitable system for displaying the work is an integral part of the restoration process.
The restoration and maintenance of tapestries and textiles is an activity that requires time, dedication and patience. If one considers that, in normal conditions, only around ten square centimetres of fabric can be "looked after" in a working day, it is clear that it can take up to four years to restore a medium-sized tapestry.