The USA Congress Library being the owner of S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii’s glass negatives was the first one to have an idea of restoring colour images. The invention of the restoration process belongs to Walter A. Frankhauser (“Walter Studio Photography”, Lexington, Virginia) who invented a complicated digital process (“digital chromatography”) to restore original colour images of S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii. Two hundred restored photographic images were exhibited in many cities of the USA. On the initiative of Yekaterina Yurievna Geniyeva these photographs for the first time were shown in Russia in May 2003 within the cooperation programme “Meeting of Frontiers”.
Yaroslavl Demidov State University started restoring of the photographic images in summer 2001. The USA collection contains 127 glass negatives of the images referring to the present territory of Yaroslavl Region that can be restored in colour. The USA specialists restored only two colour images referring to Yaroslavl Region. Besides, the images restored by the USA are more illustrative and were rendered with the precision not enough for a scientific analysis of colour images.
Yaroslavl Demidov State University in 2001 developed a digital technique of restoring colour photographs to render the images with maximum precision in contrast to the USA version. It made it possible to print the images of the size of approximately a metre by metre and carry out the analysis of tiny details of an image. In 2002 we started the restoration of images referring to the territory of present Yaroslavl Region.
rom the very start the works were supported by Yaroslavl State Museum-Preserve. In 2003 the project was funded by the Ministry of Education of Russia, the Association “Internet-Socium” (Soros Foundation), supported by Yaroslavl Art Museum. The first results were highly assessed by the USA Congress Library and presented at the exhibition in Schusev State Museum of Architecture in August 2003. In 2003-2004 the photographic images of Yaroslavl and Rostov restored by us were presented at the exhibitions “Photography Miracles – Restoration of S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii’s Photographic Heritage” in Yaroslavl Museum-Preserve, Rostov Kremlin, Ivanovo, Shuya, Petrozavodsk, Moscow (Federation Council of Russia). In 2005-2006 a large exhibition “Photography Miracles. Yaroslavl in Colour Photographic Images of the Early Twentieth Century of S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii” was presented in Yaroslavl Museum-Preserve. In 2005 the DVD “Yaroslavl in Postcards and Photographic Images” was produced including also the restored and black-and-white photographic images of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. In 2006 the second edition of this disk was produced. You can find more detailed information about the disk on the web-site of the Centre of New Information Technologies of our university http://www.cnit.uniyar.ac.ru
The goal of this scale scientific and cultural project is to recreate and present to the Russian cultural community S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii’s collection of photographic images and complement it with photographic collections of that period (1905-1915) kept in Russian museums. This project is noted, first of all, for scientific and cultural orientation. Restoration of photographic images was carried out with maximum possible precision, retouch and colour correction of images did not distort original colours and objects of photography. The colors are presented as S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii got them, without substantial correction, retouch of photographic images was done extremely carefully not to distort the details of the monuments of architecture.