The Nativity project was created keeping in mind a wish from behalf of MMGFund founder Mr Luke Olbrich, who wanted the project to help promote the careers of young and up-coming conservators/restorers working in the field of cultural heritage. With this wish in mind, the board of directors of the association Bastioni, administrators of the MMGFund, decided to launch a competition whereby members of the association could offer a bid for the restoration of the Nativity on the basis of an intervention projected signed by two accredited conservators. By Italian law only accredited conservators can sign projects, technicians (young conservators who by lack of experience still have not achieved accreditation) can intervene on objects of cultural heritage only if the intervention project is signed accordingly. By asking conservators to offer a bid on a signed project, the MMGFund was giving young conservators/restorers the unique opportunity to make head-way in their careers.
Requests to bid for the Nativity project were published on the Bastioni web-site and other social media platforms. Approximately ten offers were sent back us. The choice for the best offer was done by discarding the highest and lowest offers, finding the weighted average of the remaining offers and awarding the bid to the offer which was closest to the average figure.
Even though experienced and less experienced conservators were invited to bid, we were delighted when a young conservator/restorer from Turin, who had recently moved to Florence, won the bid. Nicholas Castelli, in joint venture with the accredited conservator Natalia Materassi, a well-known Florentine conservator whose experience in the field of panel painting and easel painting conservation covers over 30 years of experience, embraced the Nativity project with heightened enthusiasm and professional zeal.
The experience of the Nativity project has been phenomenal for everyone involved. A special thank you must be given to both the conservators Nicholas and Natalia, not only for the high standards of their work but also for the adaptability they showed when working within the Bastioni labs. Another thank you must go to all the professionals involved with the project; Maria Maugeri, art historian supervisor for the Florentine Superintendency, all the art movers from the firm Arternativa who are equally efficient, charming and incredibly skilled, to the insurance brokers from Assicurazione AXA who indeed poses the virtue of patience, to the photographer and diagnostic expert Ottaviano Caruso for working well into the wee hours of the night and to the board of directors Bastioni who have so efficiently administered the project. A heartfelt thanks must go to project manager Caterina Canetti who always reacts to my slight autistic reactions with a hearty laugh and who is always willing to join me in the most bizarre of projects. The many donors of the fund are of course the wheels that keep our activities alive and for that we are all eternally grateful.But if there is one person who will never be forgotten by both MMGFund members and the professional who work at the Bastioni, that is Mircea. His elegance, his beauty and his lust for all related with the art world are hopefully immortalised in all that we do under his name. I hope he is just as proud of us, as I am of him.
Daniela Murphy Corella, President Associazione Bastioni
Watch a brief video as art movers from Arternativa take the painting back to the Basilica del Carmine.