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Oslo: a lecture on the restoration of the Giotto frescoes in Assisi

The restoration of Giotto’s frescoes in Assisi has been defined as “a utopia that has become reality” and will be the topic of a conference on 31 August held by the Italian Cultural Institute in Oslo, organised by Camilla Sinding-Larsen, a graduate in Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration of Rome, who took part in the immense work of restoring the frescoes after they were damaged by the disastrous 1997 earthquake.

On September 26, 1997, 180 square metres of precious frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue collapsed in a few seconds, falling from a height of 20 metres and shattering into 300,000 small pieces, many of them no bigger than a fingernail. Out of that scene of destruction was born the “Utopia Construction Site” – so-called because it seemed impossible to save an immense treasure that now consisted of nothing but fragments that would all have to be put back together again. The restoration work was carried on every day for two years, even while the ground continued to shake. The restorers and workers were often forced to hurry down from the scaffolding and out of the workrooms, because of the continuous tremors. For anyone who saw the debris and destruction immediately after the earthquake, it is difficult to believe that this restoration was possible; but the desire to make utopia became a reality. The aim of this lecture, therefore, is to make known the phases of this unique restoration and thereby publicise one of Italy’s excellences: conservative restoration, which is studied with interest all over the world. The lecture will be online in Norwegian at: