The idea started in 1999, when Valeria Merlini and Daniela Storti inaugurated their first “open restoration”: an interesting new way to offer the public the extraordinary opportunity to connect with a great masterpiece of Italian art during its delicate conservation process.
At the time, the two restoration specialists – who’ve worked together for thirty years in art conservation
– put themselves on display as they worked on Caravaggio’s wonderful “Madonna of Loreto”, keeping the painting right where it was at the Cavalletti Chapel of the Church of Sant’Agostino in Campo Marzio, working under visitors’ eyes.
The experience was so successful they replicated it with other works of art in Rome, carrying out in public the renovation of “The Holy Family” by Giulio Romano in 2007, and of “The Adoration of the Shepherds” (another masterpiece by Caravaggio) between 2009 and 2010 – both at the Italian Parliament. Then, between 2014 and 2015, Merlini and Storti worked on Luca Giordano’s “Christ among the Doctors”, within an educational project at the Visconti high school’s Grand Hall between 2014 and 2015.
While their innovative “performance renovation” format has attracted much media attention, over decades of work the duo has built a remarkable résumé of masterpieces, including some by Canaletto, Cavalier d’Arpino, Tintoretto, Benedetto Carpaccio, Giovanni Baglione, Lucas Cranach and Giulio Romano.
Here they are at work, compounding the amazing art they take care of with their own excellent professional skills.