Restoration. In architecture and art, the process of bringing a work as close to its original state as possible. It is a craft, like conservation, which demands great skill, awareness of materials, and knowledge of art history. Although restoration has been carried out since antiquity, its theoretical basis was formulated in the 19th century. Restoration includes the preservation of the original, the reconstruction of missing or damaged parts, and the total reconstruction of destroyed objects. Current restorational practice utilizes the scientific discoveries of fields such as chemistry, optics, and radiology.
Much of the restoration funded by the Cossack starshyna and hetmans in the 17th and 18th centuries was, in fact, rebuilding (eg, the baroque cupolas of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv). Restoration initiated by Metropolitan Petro Mohyla ca 1633 was continued under Metropolitan Sylvestr Kosiv between 1647 and 1657 and was finished in the baroque style under the patronage of Hetman Ivan Mazepa. The restoration of original frescoes in the 19th century resulted in their being painted over with oils.
In Soviet Ukraine no restoration of churches was done in the 1930s; instead, many churches were destroyed. The State Scientific Research Restoration Workshop established by the Soviet Ukrainian government in 1938 received jurisdiction over paintings, sculpture, and other objects of art. Its branches in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Odesa service over 327 museums in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments is also involved in restoration, but on an amateur level. Since 1951 restoration of architectural monuments has been under the jurisdiction of the republican restoration institute and workshops of the State Committee for Construction (Derzhbud), which have branches in Kyiv, Lviv, Chernihiv, Odesa, and the Crimea. They restored the buildings of the Kyivan Cave Monastery, the Saint Sophia Cathedral, and the Vydubychi Monastery in Kyiv as well as the medieval churches in Chernihiv. The castle in Olesko, Lviv oblast, was restored in the 1970s and now houses part of the Lviv Art Gallery's collection of Renaissance and baroque paintings, sculpture, and furniture.
The general state of restoration in Ukraine, however, is not good. A material base, equipment, and qualified personnel are lacking. Restoration is taught only at the National Academy of Art and Architecture, and as a profession it does not have legal status in Ukraine. No enterprise in Ukraine manufactures restoration equipment or necessary materials, and restorers are forced to make do with what is available (including dangerous and toxic substances) in their work. The resulting low technical level of restoration affects the quality of work in general. The situation is further complicated by the fact that many of Ukraine's museums are housed not in specially built structures but in adapted buildings. There objects are often stored without proper temperature and humidity controls and their deterioration is thereby accelerated.
Svientsits’kyi, I. Konservatsiia i restavratsiia istorychnykh pam'iatok tserkovnoho mystetstva (Lviv 1932)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]