To ensure best practice, the project enlisted expert help from conservators to develop a code of practice for the cleaning, packing and storage of the artworks in the Königsfelden, Rheinau and Morgenthaler collections, including provision of climate-controlled storage facilities.
Walter Morgenthaler established a card index of the works in his collection at Waldau. There is also an old inventory of the surviving works from the former asylum on the Klosterinsel at Rheinau; it was incorporated into the cultural heritage inventory of the local State Office for the Preservation of Monuments when the clinic closed, and later passed on to our project. Apart from this, very few of the collections were properly catalogued, packed and stored.
Most of the artworks were kept in patients’ medical files, but some were stored in closets, cellars, attics, wardrobes and other such places, where they were susceptible to damage. For this reason, it is important not only to catalogue but also to stabilise and conserve them.
Technical analysis of the art materials and supports is also important for an understanding of how and under what conditions the art was produced. For this analysis, interdisciplinary, specialist collaboration is essential. A network of conservators, including students of conservation and restoration at the Hochschule der Künste Bern, was set up to provide specialist expertise and support for the psychiatric institutions.
However, it is only thanks to the financial support of third parties that the conservation of the artworks is possible.