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Decoration of Monuments Unit

Window and door frames, ironwork, stucco, wallpaper, etc. are all decorative finishes that give historic facades and interiors their own character. The cell's knowledge and expertise are essential to the restoration of many exceptional protected buildings.

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Expertise in the service of restoration

The unit is made up of experienced conservator-restorers. Their research contributes to a deeper understanding of decorative finishes, both in art history and in the development of the techniques used. They are also involved in restoration projects on behalf of public institutions and private individuals.

This collaboration sometimes evolves into a permanent partnership, particularly with the Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Brussels-Capital Region and with the Walloon Region (AWaP, the Wallonia Heritage Agency).

Our field often requires an interdisciplinary approach. For many sites, we work closely with the other services of the Institute: the conservation studios, the labs and the documentation units.

Emmanuelle Job, head of the unit

Stratigraphic research: in search of the 'original state'

How have the decorative elements of a building evolved? Stratigraphic examination of the finishes provides an answer.

Emmanuelle Job: "We head on-site to carry out a microscopic examination of the window frames, the ironwork, the plastering and the stucco, among other things. The accumulation of layers of paint, chalk, varnish or even wallpaper bears witness to the building's evolution throughout history. Our research enables us to determine the 'original state' or 'state of reference' of the decoration, and thus to give direction to the specifications of the architect in charge of the restoration project."

Wallpaper, a unique discipline in full development

Thanks to their continuous research on materials and techniques used in wallpapers, the cell's specialists have developed unique expertise. They also carry out stylistic studies of wallpapers and can objectively date, attribute and even identify them.

"Wallpaper is a little-known but essential part of the theoretical and practical reconstruction of the history of interiors", says Wivine Wailliez. "Ever since the creation of our unit in 2001, we have received many questions about wallpaper. At that time, we conducted an in-depth study of the wallpapers in the Hotel Dewez in Brussels, which now houses the Museum of Freemasonry. In 2006, we signed an agreement with the Brussels-Capital Region to compile an inventory of wallpapers produced, used, discovered, preserved or exhibited in Brussels. We created a glossary that is now being extended to the whole of Belgium."

The Wallpaper Museum at Rixheim (France) also accredits KIK-IRPA as a research centre for wallpaper – a valued recognition for years of research and publications.

Wallpaper is a little-known but essential part of the theoretical and practical reconstruction of the history of interiors.

Wivive Wailliez, wallpaper expert

Spreading knowledge

With their many years of expertise, the unit specialists guarantee the quality of the projects and studies. They are also keen to contribute to the spreading of that knowledge among (future) colleagues and the general public through:

  • scientific publications
  • popular scientific publications
  • participation in conferences in Belgium and abroad
  • teaching assignments (refresher courses and master’s programmes).

Do you have any questions or want more information? Please contact us!

Job Emmanuelle
Emmanuelle Job

Our experts

Wivine Wailliez