We reproduce below the news "Cutting-edge technology for Golden Age paintings". by E. Gancedo, which you can find on the website Diariodeleon.es
E. GANCEDO | LEÓN 30/06/2017
Just over a year ago, on May 21 to be precise, representatives of the regional government, the Isidorian chapter and the Montemadrid Foundation signed and communicated a colossal remodeling of the Royal Collegiate Church and its museum that would make it a "cutting-edge cultural center" with a budget of 4.8 million euros. As a decade ago, a similar announcement failed to materialize, it has been logical, in recent months, to speak of a certain skepticism.
But the project has begun and is moving at a good pace, at least as far as its first step is concerned. As reported to this newspaper by the Montemadrid Foundation and confirmed and expanded by the General Directorate of Heritage of the Board, the work continues "according to plan".
The restoration work on the roof of the chamber of Doña Sancha has just been completed and the relocation and repositioning of the Renaissance doorway that connected the chamber of Doña Sancha with the library is about to be finished, by one of the best master stonemasons in Spain," the Montemadrid Foundation said. On the other hand, restoration work continues on the valuable paintings in this space".
The work referred to by the Foundation's communication officers refers to one of the most complex and curious rooms of the religious, historical, pilgrim and cultural site that is San Isidoro. The chamber of Doña Sancha contained excellent mural paintings, from the 16th century and earlier, which were mostly torn from the walls 56 years ago - by order of the architect Luis Menéndez-Pidal, then curator of monuments of the Northwest -, rolled up and covered with newspaper and stored in the chapel of the Magdalena. Thus, the first part of the great transformation of San Isidoro has consisted not only in the recovery, restoration and replacement of those paintings -still in progress-, but also in the reintegration of the chamber to its original parameters, greatly modified by order of Menéndez-Pidal to give it an artificial "medieval aspect" so in vogue half a century ago, as explained by the general director of Heritage, Enrique Saiz.
The works, budgeted at around 380,000 euros, have been awarded to the Madrid company Taller de Arte Granda, are very delicate and laborious and require the latest knowledge and technologies in the field, Saiz noted. "The cover of the chamber has been moved to its original place, the one it occupied six decades ago, in the connection with the library," said the director general with respect to the large door of the room that over time has been a royal tribune, oratory, cell, desk, chapter house and until now the treasure room, where for a long time the famous Chalice of Doña Urraca was displayed until its transfer to a vaulted room.
The reintegration of the paintings is also out of the ordinary: instead of being reattached to the walls, they will be installed on "mobile supports" so that the visitor can observe, in the same space, both the paintings from the 16th century, which can be attributed to the early Gothic period, and other even older remains. A "sophisticated solution", as he described it, that will allow to contemplate several pictorial layers at the same time and in the same place where they were placed. A complex process aimed not only at restoring the importance of this room but also with an eye to the new structure of the museum. Because, as explained a year ago, the tour route will be renewed and modified almost entirely: a new entrance will be enabled, chapels, the upper part of the cloister, the rooster tower and Roman walls will be opened to the public, and the itinerary will conclude with the most spectacular: the Royal Pantheon of the monarchs of León, also called 'the Sistine Chapel of Romanesque Art', which is currently the first thing to be visited. The public representatives and the Foundation's representatives then estimated an increase "by three times" of the visitable surface of the Collegiate Church. Responsible for the remodeling, moreover, is the architect Juan Pablo Rodriguez Frade, architect of other major reforms such as the National Archaeological Museum or the Museum of the Alhambra.
Some important works will begin "at the end of this year or early next year", according to the general director of Heritage.