Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt
Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte

Practical Conservation

Halle, State Court
Halle, Landgericht (State Court), built 1905, Architects: Paul Thoemer / Karl Illert, reinstatement of the original form of the facade, 2005, © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt (Photo: G. Preuß)
Halle, Große Märkerstraße, Schleiermacher House (seat of the State Office's Department for Historic Buildings and Works of Art)
Halle, Große Märkerstraße, the Schleiermacher House, built 1561/62, seat of the State Office's Department for Historic Buildings and Works of Art, © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt (Photo: R. Ulbrich)
Magdeburg, Otto-Richter-Straße, commissioned by Bruno Taut, around 1921
Magdeburg, Otto-Richter-Straße, colour design by Carl Krayl, commissioned by Bruno Taut, around 1921. On the left the expressionist colours of the facades have already been reinstated, Foto: © LDA Sachsen-Anhalt (Photo: G. Preuß)

The Law of the State of Saxony-Anhalt on the Protection of Historic Monuments (Denkmalschutzgesetz des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, DGSchG LSA), section § 5, sets out the responsibilities of the specialist Conservation Office. Its tasks include providing expert support and advice to the Conservation Authorities and especially to the owners of historic monuments, as well as the submission of expert opinions to other authorities.

The process of defining why a monument merits protected status, and of clarifying the elements - which may range from construction to fittings to external appearance - that constitute its historic quality, provides the basis for the practical work to be carried out on it. The regular tasks can be summarised as maintenance, reinstatement and repair, while the different methods by which this is achieved fall under the heads conservation, restoration and renovation. The conservation expert's task is to preserve and maintain the historical remains in their original substance and in a convincing and authentic visual form, though here 'original' may also encompass later alterations. Evidence of the building's history will become visible in the course of extensive practical work and it must be documented and evaluated. These traces help us to better understand the history of a building and must be investigated to see if they bear on any central aspects of its character as a historic monument. The timely involvement of the conservation experts and a thorough knowledge of the building that is undergoing alterations will be needed before it is possible to draw up a comprehensive assessment of the existing building-substance and a programme for its reinstatement (understood as a set of conservation goals). These documents give the owner of the monument security in planning matters.

The practical conservation expert also has an important role as a communicator of the conservation process, by explaining the preservation goals to owners, architects and others involved in the building-work. The goal of the Conservation Office's expert advice is the long-term preservation of the monuments through active and appropriate use.

The Conservation Office supports the local-government Conservation Authorities (Denkmalschutzbehörden) in the cities and districts of Saxony-Anhalt by providing local liaison officers - in four sections: North, Central, Harz, and South - who are present at regular on-site meetings at the building sites and properties. During the inspections and discussions with owners, ideas for the ongoing work on the monument are developed and the execution of conservation measures is supervised. On the basis of experience, the staff member responsible also decides whether to involve other specialist areas of the Conservation Office, for example Restoration, Architectural Research, or Construction Engineering.

Contacts throughout Germany are maintained at the Annual Conference of State Conservation Staff, which is held in a different federal state each year. It features work groups on various themes at which theoretical and practical experiences can be exchanged in presentations and in the presence of the objects of conservation themselves.

Briest near Tangerhütte, manor house of the Rittergut (‘knight's landed estate')
Briest near Tangerhütte, manor house of the Rittergut ('knight's landed estate'), built in 1624, renovated after a fire in 1839 (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Photo: L. Schier)
Werben (Elbe), former chapel of the Heilig-Geist-Spital (‘Holy Ghost Hospital')
Werben (Elbe), former chapel of the Heilig-Geist-Spital ('Holy Ghost Hospital'), the so-called Salzkirche ('Salt Church'), 2nd half of the 15th century, from 1542 used as a granary, from 1741-1810 as a salt shed (© LDA Sachsen-Anhalt, Photo: L. Schier)