Between 1996 and 2003, the Bourbaki Panorama underwent extensive safeguarding, preservation and restoration work. In so doing, it was ensured that it would be possible to display the large-scale panorama painting to the public for decades to come.
Among other things, the work included removing large ripples from the painting, cleaning the surface, re-attaching the paint layer to the supporting canvas, repairing over 1000 tears and holes, as well as retouching the paint layer.
In order to be able to stabilise the condition of the painting over the long term, the ideal ambient conditions were created using technical means.
All of these improvements, however, have not yet provided a solution to the final problem of preservation. Analyses have indicated a very high level of over-acidification of the supporting canvas, in the range of ph 3.5. The consequence thereof is the advanced rotting of the fabric, which has already led to a deterioration in its ability to resist tearing. One scientific research project has developed a process which would allow chemical neutralisation, and its implementation is currently being studied.
Visitors can learn more about the Franco-Prussian War; the extremely precarious conditions involving the internment of the 87,000 French soldiers in Switzerland; the first major mission for the Swiss Red Cross, still relatively new at that time, and new Swiss Confederation. Visitors gain a better understanding of individual fates and the solidarity among the Swiss population, as well as the origins of the panorama painting.