Laboratory director Alexei I. Bantikov
The Imperial Hermitage did not have a specialized workshop for restoring works of applied art. However, items in the museum and the palace were under constant surveillance and, in case of need, measures were taken for their restoration. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the collections were enlarged by objects found during archeological excavations, and they required urgent and highly qualified restoration. The chemist Wilhelm Weisenberg was invited to the Hermitage in 1907 to undertake this work and we may call him the first specialist restorer of archeological metal objects. For his work Weisenberg relied on his knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of metals. He restored finds from the Scythian barrows of Kul-Oba, Artyukhovsky, the Semibratnąya grave, the Kelermes, Maikop, Alexandropol and Solokha barrows, and other sites.
In the period from 1917 to 1926, the activity of the Hermitage's chemical laboratory is linked with the names N.N. Kurnakov and T.K. Veibel. In 1932 N.V. Kuranov and N.A. Chernyshov organized a chemical and restoration laboratory within the Department of Technical Restoration. In 1934 the Hermitage director B.V. Legran signed an agreement with the State Academy of the History of Material Culture for the development and transfer to the museum of methodologies for restoring especially complicated metal objects. At this time the laboratory was equipped with needed apparatus and instruments.
At the end of the 1930s, the laboratory already had a large group of restorers specializing in applied arts. Work was being done on the restoration of metal objects found in archeological excavations, ceramics, organic materials and weapons from the Oriental Department and the Department of Western European Art. In the 1950s the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Works of Applied Art organized separate groups of specialists to deal with restoration of "archeological metal," "new metal," ceramics and organic materials.
The laboratory is the largest in the Department of Scientific Restoration and Conservation and consists of sectors for the restoration of new metal, restoration of archeological metal, restoration of ceramics, porcelain, glass and cuneiform tablets and restoration of stained-glass panels.