Established in the 16th century by the powerful Medici family, the Semi-precious Stone Factory in Florence is one of the oldest institutes devoted to the preservation and restoration of art works.
Its new exhibition 'From the Pharaoh's Egypt to the Samurai's Japan' takes visitors on a journey through space and time.
Restoration is a time-consuming task that requires a lot of patience, says conservationist Elisa Bracaloni: “Textiles are everyday items. They are subject to a complex process over the years, especially during the life of the person who wears them. Therefore, a dress will suffer degradation differently from another piece of art, and this depends on how the person wore the clothing.”
It took conservationists nearly three years to restore the garments on show, using techniques such as x-ray scans for more precision.
Rare and precious examples of works in silk, linen and gold were conserved as part of the relic of one of Christianity’s most revered saints, Saint John the Baptist.
“The idea of this exhibition is to offer insight to people, to give them a chance to see how vast and varied the collection of fabrics is, and what you can find in a laboratory that specialises in the restoration of precious, ancient textiles,” says conservationist Licia Triolo.
Among the pieces on show is a veil from Siena, dating back to the 13th century, and shoes worn by a 14th century bishop. Other highlights include Egyptian sandals dating back 2,500 years and a waistcoat once worn by a 17th century Samurai warrior.
The exhibition is on in Florence until September.