Section of Specialized Activities
The broad term “Section of Specialized Activities” associates specific museum activities of such a varied character that it was impossible to find a suitable single-word term for them. Although the section’s activities are basically hidden from the public eye, they are of decisive importance to the existence of the museum and for fulfilling its professional, legal as well as social functions.
The responsibility of the Restoration Department is to care for the preservation of the material substance of art works held in the National Gallery’s collections. The team of highly qualified restorers and conservers has, at its disposal, a highly technically equipped studios to restore paintings, polychrome sculptures, works on paper as well as the specific works of Oriental art. The department also includes a mounting workshop and a chemical and technological laboratory, which has been, especially in recent years, very well equipped. Apart from the restoration and conservation of classical art works, the Restoration Department watches over the environment in which the works of art are kept, it controls the technical and climatic conditions of the exhibition halls and depositories, carries out regular reviews of their state and keeps records of the results. The restorers, along with curators, collectively determine the exhibiting of particular works of art, evaluate possible risks, issues of conservation and the protective conditions of the presentation.
The Collections Register manages all collection items at the National Gallery regarding Property Law. The current rounded number of the collection objects is 350.000. According to Law No. 122/2000 Coll. which, along with other issues, sets rules for museum recording, the register keeps chronological records in its Acquisition Book (1st level of recording) and a systematic account of its inventories (2nd level of recording); this is done via conventional, physically written entries into the record books and, also recently, into a computer database. The register administers handle the collection items, and issues documents through which the National Gallery acquires (and sometimes also loses) its collection items and contracts in cases of loaned works of art to exhibitions that have been organized by other parties both in the Czech Republic and abroad. It coordinates the obligatory regular revisions of the collections’ fund. It is involved in the legal copyright agenda concerning the National Gallery’s collection items and, in all the above mentioned areas it is, at the same time, a methodical workplace for other art museums in the Czech Republic. Within the Collections Register also lies the Department of Export Permissions. This department is responsible for issuing export permissions for objects of cultural value according to Law No. 71/1994 Coll. and in the wording of its later provisions.
The professional evidence today would be barely imaginable without visual documentation. The National Gallery therefore has a group of professional photographers employed on a full-time basis. They have a central photographic studio with highly advanced equipment at their disposal, both for classical photography in black and white and for large-format color slides. The photographs are taken at the highest possible quality, which allows for their reproduction to print. The shots are liable to the standards of protection according to copyright law; the copyright holders are the individual photographers and the property rights belong to the National Gallery in Prague.
The Section of Specialized Activities also includes a library and archives. The National Gallery Archives are, according to the valid law, archives of special significance. They hold two types of historical records and documents: documents issued by the National Gallery in Prague itself as well as by its two historical predecessors – the Picture Gallery of Patriotic Friends of the Arts and the Modern Gallery – and materials of documentary character concerning art history in Czech lands. The study room of the National Gallery Archives is accessible to the public on selected days (please click on “Services for Public”).
The National Gallery Library is a specialized professional library of art history literature. It contains about 100.000 volumes of books and periodicals and, according to ability, it enriches its funds on a steady basis. The library is open to the public on selected days for attendance study (please click on “Services for Public”).