Restoration of Sculptural Decoration
and manager of the project: Ms. Jana Feldsteinová
The first part of Foundation's new project was realized: Renovation - restoration of sculptural decoration on the facade of National Theatre in Prague. UNILEVER ER, Ltd., has decided to financially support this project; National Theatre itself is not able to cover the expenses for such a demanding work from its budget. The authorization and expert supervision was realized by SÚPP (State Institute of Monument Care) in Prague under the management of Mr. Nejedlý. In the course of theatre holidays, the first works began, and a part of the first phase was finished in September 2000.
We firmly believe that we will be able to continue our cooperation with a partner who will help maintain this wonderful building in such a state that the pedestrians are not endangered by pieces of stone or plaster which might fall down. The project is worked-out until the year 2006. The following paragraph describes the restorers' opinion of the project.
From the mid of July, a testing restoration of sculptures and restoration research of sculptures placed on the buttress and the front of National Theatre was made, being ordered by The Civic Forum Foundation. Restorers Michal Blažek and Igor Kalina, and the mountaineer Mr. Jan Kocman moved in the heights doing the restoration research of the sculptural decoration, the result of which being 10 kilos of photographs, analyses and evaluations of the sculptures controlled. 14 statues from the front, the facade and the buttress went step by step through ultrasound measuring, laboratory research of the stone material, through petrographic research, etc.
As agreed with SÚPP, the statues of Lumír and Záboj from the niches of the front were chosen as test ones, and they were restored and covered with nets to be protected against pigeons who used to nest here.
"First we made a detailed photo-documentation of damaged spots and cleaned the statues, removing pigeons' excrements and dirties caused by the traffic on the National Street. Then we wrapped Záboj and Lumír into softening and desalinating packs," Michal Blažek says. The passers-by were astonished seeing black plastic bags covering the statues.
"After removing the packs and cleaning the statues with atomized water the real restoration began, we namely replaced old unsuitable cements or added missing parts to the statues." As Igor Kalina says, protection against pigeons is a big problem. Though the statues were provided with metal bayonets, pigeons could easily get behind the statue and build their nests there. That's why the bayonets were replaced by fishnets, which could better stop them.
The other statues, nine muses and Apollo, Bohuslav Schnirch's work, were analyzed. In these days we could see a man hanging on a rope, putting a stethoscope on his stony patients' bodies.
"Ultrasound measuring is very important, it is the only way how to find out if the stony material is damaged inside. Then the restorers decide for an appropriate "operation", Mr. Karol Bayer explains. Research of ten Schnirch's statues proved a good state of their stone material. The same procedure was used in case of sculptures placed on the buttress facing the river Vltava.
The sculptural group Drama, Opera and four allegories - Music, Dance, History and Poetry by Antonín Wagner were step by step examined by Karol Bayer and then cleaned by the restorers. Later the relieves under the three-horse teams were examined, unfortunately tracks of static character, in state of disrepair, were found there, because one of the influences causing most important damage to the statues are vibrations due to the traffic.
"National Theatre's sculptures are a little neglected, therefore some of them are in the state of disrepair. Nevertheless, if we have enough financial means, we would like to go on restoring the statues of National Theatre," Igor Kalina adds.
Clio, Calliope, Euterpe, Terspichore, Apollo......., more than 20 figurative statues by Bohuslav Schnirch and Antonín Wagner form an inseparable part of the building, though at first sight, unlike the trigae, we do not often even realize their presence.
© Nadace OF 2003