Work on the preservation of antiquities in stone and plaster materials held in the Vatican Museums has roots and traditions as ancient as the Pontifical Collections themselves.
Diverse figures have been charged with carrying out such an important task throughout history: from the end of the eighteenth century up to the Lateran Pacts, the sculptors themselves intervened directly on the works; after 1929 work was also attributed to formators. A key figure in the 1920s was the sculptor and artistic director of sculpture, Guido Galli, direct descendant of Antonio Canova, whereas in the 1930s Francesco Mercatali gave greater consideration to the role of the formator, closely linked to the Museum structure and to restoration activities.
In the subsequent decades, the restorer – less so the sculptor – who worked at the Museum was often the same person who carried out the work of the formator, as by this stage the two activities had become intertwined, with a growing awareness of conservation developing in both cases.
Throughout the years, the restoration of stone materials was carried out in a succession of different locations, until in 1984 the modern structure of the then “Marble and Plaster Restoration Laboratory” was built – a large, luminous space endowed with cutting-edge equipment and tools.
In the mid 1980s the structure was progressively extended, with the entry of restorers with diverse and complementary backgrounds and experience, eventually forming a total staff of eight specialists in the sector. Since 2006 the Stone Materials Restoration Laboratory has been coordinated by maestro Guy Devreux.