Restaurator Sabrina werkt aan een schilderij van Pieter de Hooch waarop een personage ooit is weggeschilderd

To the art doctor

Most of the paintings at the Mauritshuis are more than 300 years old. But they don’t look old at all. How come? Find out here.

For children age 7+

Hi, I’m a conservator. What’s that? I’ll show you in a minute.

De restaurator

People change as they get older. They get wrinkles and grey hairs. Pictures are the same. Just like people, every picture is unique, and you have to be very careful with them. If something is wrong with a picture, you have to take it to the doctor. Not a people doctor, a painting doctor, who is called a conservator. We have conservators working at the Mauritshuis, right upstairs in the attic. Close to the paintings, but nice and quiet.

Look and discover

Conservators are really good at looking carefully and spotting things. Sometimes they just look with their eyes, but often they use special equipment that can even see through paint. That helps them discover things about how the painting was made, and what happened to it later.

Sometimes I even find out the painter made a mistake.

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How good are you at looking?

How good are you at looking? Find the differences between the painting and the infrared photograph. We’ve already spotted two. Can you find any more?

0199 Normaal
0199 Ir

Paintings get dirty

Paintings get dirty, but of course you can’t put them under the shower. Luckily, lots of paintings have a layer of varnish which keeps the paint clean. And there is also glass in front of most of the paintings at the Mauritshuis. Like a kind of window we can clean every now and then.

But the varnish also has to be cleaned from time to time. Not with a sponge and shampoo, but with a cotton bud and some special cleaning stuff specially made for each painting. Here you can see how much better they look after they have been cleaned.

0195 After2
0195 Before2

Replacing the varnish

Varnish: you can’t see it, but it’s very important for the painting. It’s a transparent layer that protects the paint and makes the colours really beautiful. But sometimes it has to be removed. This film explains why and how. Removing varnish is a job that you need a lot of patience for. Do you have plenty of patience?

I have a lot of patience when I’m working on a painting, but I’m very impatient when I’m waiting for the bus.

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A blue sky?

Things sometimes happen to paintings before they come to our museum. The sky in this painting was once completely repainted. We would never do that ourselves, so our conservators painted it over again, so it looked like it did at first. We always make sure that we use paint that can easily be removed, because people might have different ideas about it in the future. Now it looks like the painter meant it to, but the history of the painting is also safe.

Isn’t it lovely? Or do you prefer the blue sky?

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0406 Before
0406 After

‘Yummy!’ thought the woodworms when they saw this painting. It was painted on a wooden plank (a panel). They ate up William of Orange’s left shoulder and arm. So the wood was replaced with a new piece a long time ago. The conservator painted his sleeve all over again on the new wood.

Luckily, Adriaen Key made several paintings of the prince that look just like this one. So the conservator could copy the sleeve, and she didn’t have to make it up herself. Although it might have been fun to paint it in some nice new colours.

Restauratie Tentoonstelling


A conservator uses lots of different tools. Do you know what these things are used for?

Animatiefiguurtje onder de tekst:
Actually, a conservator has to do lots of different jobs: inspector, cleaner, doctor, discoverer and painter.

Mauritshuis Restauratie Sabrina Meloni Aan Het Werk Met UV Licht
Tentoonstelling Facelifts Makeovers Beeld

Come to the museum!

If you would like to learn more about restoring paintings, or see how they look afterwards, come to our Facelifts & Makeovers exhibition. It has special information texts for kids, activities you can do yourself, and weekend and holiday workshops so you can get an idea of what it’s like to be a conservator. Met link naar de agenda?

Come and see me at the museum, where I can show you lots more things!

De restaurator

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