Bringing History Back to Life: The Restoration of The Mutoko

Preserving History: The Significance of The Mutoko’s Restoration

For a fortnight, from 27 March to 7 April 2023, an unprecedented collaboration took place between students from the Centre de Formation de La Reliure du Limousin, a MEMORIST division, and the experts and restorers of the South Africa Museum. The aim? To breathe new life into a unique work of art, a treasure trove of history and the beginnings of humanity: The Mutoko.

A 7-metre-long reproduction of Southern African rock art, The Mutoko is a work of inestimable value. Created in 1928 by three women artists during an expedition led by the German archaeologist and ethnologist Leo Frobenius, it bears witness to the cultural and artistic wealth of the region.

Mutoko’s Heritage Restoration Process

 French and South African experts undertook painstaking work to restore this historic treasure. From exposing the wooden poles and paper reinforcements to cleaning and dry dusting, each stage was carried out with extreme care. Some areas were reinforced by localized lining with Japanese paper, and watercolour retouching was carried out with precision.

The work has a rich history of featuring in exhibitions around the world, from its first showing in 1929 at the South Africa Museum to its recent exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 2019. In summer of 2023, it returned to the Iziko South African National Gallery, 94 years after its last exhibition in South Africa, as part of the exhibition “Breaking Down the Walls – 150 years of Art Collecting”.

This restoration reflects MEMORIST’s commitment to the preservation and enhancement of the world’s cultural heritage. Thanks to this transnational collaboration, The Mutoko will continue to fascinate and inspire future generations, testifying to the richness and diversity of Southern African art and history.

With our thorough restoration techniques, MEMORIST strives to protect and preserve your heritage for future generations. Captivated by The Mutoko’s tale? Take action today to protect your cultural heritage. Contact the MEMORIST team today.

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