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A focus on the Romanesque stained glass windows of the abbey of Stavelot

In the early 1990s, AWaP archaeologists made an exceptional discovery in the soil of Stavelot Abbey: a remarkable collection of Romanesque stained glass windows dating from the 12th century. Shortly afterwards, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage experts were commissioned to treat these very damaged glass fragments. They developed a very original process for this purpose.


Agence wallonne du Patrimoine (AWaP)

1995-2002; 2021-2022
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Géraldine Bussienne
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Archaeological excavations

Archaeologists carried out excavations in the former abbey of Stavelot in 1992. They uncovered a unique collection of 12th-century Romanesque stained glass windows. Amongst the thousands of pieces and fragments of glass, many were still decorated with grisaille patterns, representing, amongst other things, human and animal heads, drapery elements and inscriptions.


Once excavated, the fragments of glass were quite deteriorated and fragile. By preserving them temporarily in water, the archaeologists were able to consolidate their condition. In 1995, at the request of the Agence wallonne du Patrimoine (AWaP), KIK-IRPA's Glass Studio investigated the most suitable consolidating agent to prevent the fragments from disintegrating during the drying process while still consolidating their condition. They decided to use Polyethylene glycol PEG 4000; an agent generally used to consolidate water-logged wood.

The process has been successful. The fragments can now be handled without risk, and the remains of the grisaille have been preserved. Between 1998 and 2002, almost 2000 fragments were successfully treated. After a lengthy interruption, the last treatment phase is scheduled for 2021-2022.

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Antique glass at Musée L: restoration and typo-chronological research

At the request of L Museum in Louvain-La-Neuve, KIK is restoring a unique collection of antique glass. Through a typo-chronological study and chemical analyses, the experts are also looking for the origin of some rare pieces. This task, entrusted to KIK, was recently extended to include the editing of a collection catalogue.

Discover this project