Conservation and restoration techniques for the preservation of composite objects with high proportions of elastomers and other synthetic materials (rubber materials).

High-polymer materials – especially rubber – up to and including fully synthetic plastics, have now found their way into all areas of our lives. For many museum collections they now constitute a group of objects which are especially difficult to preserve. Decomposition and the resulting disintegration of the material lead – if not to complete loss of the object – at least to severe impairment of the object context. Conservators are also faced with the problem that complex objects often consist of a combination of elastomers with other materials. This has consequences for storage: protection of materials means making compromises.

Within the framework of a project funded by the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States) and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), numerous studies have been carried out on elastomer objects in the DBM’s collection of rescue equipment, and restoration work has been done in collaboration with the project partners. This work has produced important preliminary results. The topic is very complex, however: further studies are needed in order to preserve organic materials within our technological cultural heritage.
The following aspects should therefore form the focus of a follow-up project:

  • Acquisition of analytically precise knowledge about the materials at hand and their decomposition products.
  • Theoretical development and practical testing of methods of preventive conservation and practical restoration.
  • Development of methods for the preservation and restoration of severely endangered museum objects with elastomer components.
  • Evaluation of existing methods of preservation and restoration.

For further information please see the annual report 2012 of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Project manager

Dr. Michael Ganzelewski


Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin

Filmmuseum Potsdam

Atelier für Restaurierung D. Linke, Berlin


Kulturstiftung des Bundes und der Länder, Halle


2008 - 2012