Since their partnership began in 1989, Valeria Merlini and Daniela Storti have undertaken numerous large-scale conservation and restoration projects, gaining recognition for their exceptional technical skills and expertise in team management. In 1999, they restored Caravaggio’s The Pilgrims’ Madonna in situ at the Church of Sant’Agostino, making them the first to carry out an open restoration in Italy. Since 2008, they have curated an annual special exhibition focusing on an 'opera unica', hosted by Palazzo Marino in Milan. By exhibiting several masterpieces loaned by the Louvre, including those by Leonardo, Titian, Georges de La Tour, Canova, and Francois Gerard, they have developed a stimulating relationship with the famous Parisian museum.Read the full interview
Valeria: I started this profession by chance. When I was at school my drawing teacher told me I had very little creativity but I was very good at copying things so maybe I could be a restorer. Daniela: I studied art history at university and simultaneously trained at an important workshop in Rome.Why do you carry out open restorations?
It’s important to have interaction between restorers and visitors. The experience of the open restoration of Caravaggio’s The Pilgrims’ Madonna was something innovative and we have repeated this experience several times, in order to involve local people.
Valeria: People normally don't realise the amount of skills you need to master. It’s essential to do long internships and have experiences with colleagues or masters, since there is constant evolution. Daniela: People do not understand that behind our work, there is a very complex science.Are restoration skills endangered?
Valeria: There's too little recognition. We live in a country where at every corner, there’s something to preserve. Preserving art is essential for humanity. Daniela: The sector could be a source of employment for many young people. Craftsmanship and restoration must return as the crown jewels of our country.