At the Ankara Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory affiliated with the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, thousands of cultural assets and historical artifacts are maintained and restored every year, which are then added to the inventories of museums across the country. Ankara Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory Director Cengiz Özduygulu said that they worked on 6,000 works in 2021 with a team of 25 people consisting of restorers and conservators.
The maintenance and repair of thousands of artifacts registered in the inventory of museums are carried out at the Ankara Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory in accordance with scientific criteria. Small artifacts viewed in detail on the center's X-ray device are then examined under a microscope. While scalpels primarily used by doctors in surgeries are used to correct some artifacts, dental tools are also used to separate delicate items, like fabric threads. The laboratory ranks second out of the 10 largest such facilities in Turkey in terms of size.
Özduygulu noted that 12 provinces are in their area of responsibility since it is a regional laboratory. He said that the artifacts from the excavation sites are brought to the laboratory and that they first create a file describing the state of the artifact. "While the maintenance of a coin takes between one day and one week, the restoration of wooden or textile artifacts on which a few people work may take several years. Metal artifacts are analyzed in detail on the X-ray device. We reassemble pieces that have been separated under the microscope," he said.
Özduygulu stated that they avoid the use of chemicals as much as possible while prolonging the life of the artifacts. "We use scalpels, which are commonly known as operating knives, when working on metal artifacts. We do not want to use too many chemicals or substances. They can also have negative effects. For this reason, we prefer mechanical methods. Following mechanical restoration work on a metal artifact, we complete the processes by making use of chemicals for protection," he explained.
"For paper artifacts, we also work with organic chemicals that will completely protect and preserve the fibers, texture and strengthen them. The restoration work for each piece differs according to its own uniqueness. There is a map currently being worked on. This is a piece made out of paper. The work has fabric for support on the back. In order to repair the paper, we must first separate it from the textile," he outlined.
Özduygulu stated that they have begun the restoration of an 18th-century flag that came from the Amasya Museum. "In terms of its textual condition, it has lost its textile integrity and has been reduced to threads. These will be arranged and then made transportable with support fabrics behind them. The fabrics we use are made with similar support fabrics according to the work's own characteristics. We will take the artifact, restore it to a state where it can be exhibited and then deliver it back to the museum," he explained.
Özduygulu explained that currently, two people are working on the flag and it should be completed in a year, but there are no time constraints on the restoration work. "Our priority is to protect the condition of the work and prolong its life. Therefore, all the processes that the work needs are done in a complete fashion," he said.
Özduygulu expressed that the feeling they experienced after the delivery of a piece was indescribable and said:
"When the restoration of a piece is completed and something visual emerges, we cannot replace this pleasure with anything because the work we are restoring is not a contemporary object. You make contributions to an object from thousands of years ago by trying to sense the feelings of the craftsperson at that time. After the process is over, that feeling is amazing," he said.
But he also warned, "People love ancient artifacts very much, but while making some contributions to them, they can also do harmful things. If they do this process with support and information from us, they won't harm the artifact. I believe people should not be so carefree in this regard."
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