Secrets revealed after document restoration

What secrets could emerge from a 1952 map that you've viewed hundreds of times? Location manager Riko van der Stap and Hans Carels of the Population Protection Museum were surprised. Many great new discoveries were made during the presentation of the repair work by VANWAARDE, Polygon in Netherlands own document restoration company.

The 3 X 3 meter regional map of Haaglanden/Rotterdam Rijnmond has been hanging in the Bunker complex Park Overvoorde in Rijswijk since 1952. On the tactical map, scenarios were devised for the ring command of the A-ring South Holland, how to react in the time of a 3rd world war or (nuclear) bomb impact. In 1969 the ring command moved to a bunker that was also resistant to radioactive radiation, and was given a more modern map.

The climatic conditions in the bunker were unfortunately not good for a paper map and it suffered considerable damage. In 2018 it was decided to have the map restored. VANWAARDE was able to carry out the assignment from July 2020.

The recovery process was started in stages by Tycho Kloeg, specialist book and paper restorer at VANWAARDE. The card originally consists of 9 parts taped together. To be able to restore the map it was first divided into 6 parts. Tycho:

“The difficulty of the project is that parts are glued together with double-sided tape and as a whole. The gluing makes the paper moist. It expands and you get tensions that creates folds. After the map was divided, the mold spots were removed with gamma radiation and the cloth on which the map was attached was removed. During the work it turned out that many adjustments and innovations have been made over the years.”

“The nice thing about the process, and what the clients could never have seen, was the many small changes that had been made to the map. Sometimes it consisted of 3 layers, particles released and new history emerged. The Scheveningen pier, for example, has been loosely preserved. But if pieces of the map were missing, we left it that way. We don't write history ourselves.”

As a final step, the map was glued to gatorfoam, which can withstand the climate conditions in the bunker much better and so that the map can be displayed nicely again. Tycho:

“For VANWAARDE it is always a great honor to be able to work on special historical heritage. The importance of restoring objects of historical value in order to preserve them for future generations is deeply rooted in the company's DNA. I find it very special and interesting that the map has been hanging in the same place for 70 years, has been really used and that you can see the history in this way.”

When the map is returned to the bunker complex, it will be beautifully lit and re-exhibited in its original place, so that visitors to the museum can see all the new discoveries. Riko:

“We are very pleased with the result. Tycho and VANWAARDE did a great job. We have also been inspired, and have become even more enthusiastic about the map.”