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Paintings damaged in Copenhagen fire can be restored

Historical paintings rescued by firefighters and the public during a huge blaze at Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange can almost all be restored, conservators have said, as they put the damaged works on display.

A blaze ripped through Denmark’s landmark 400-year-old stock exchange building in April, causing a large part of its roof, its distinctive dragon-tail spire, and its walls to collapse, in a scene reminiscent of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris in 2019.

Artworks rescued from the blaze were hastily loaded onto trucks by firefighters and soldiers, while conservators and passersby helped retrieve paintings from the part of the building that had not caught fire.

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At a storehouse in Vinge, some 40km from Copenhagen, conservators have been assessing the damage to the roughly 350 rescued artefacts.

Some were damaged by fire or whilst being hastily torn off the walls, but the biggest impact came from water, conservators said, with picture canvases marked by long runny streaks.

A detail of a painting, rescued from the fire at the site of the historic former stock exchange Boersen in Copenhagen, is pictured at the National Museum’s warehouse

“We can repair them to a condition where you can’t see they have been damaged, which can be hard to believe when you look at them now,” Nina Wajnman, a conservator at the National Museum, told reporters.

The cost of repairing the art works is not yet known, she said.

The Dutch Renaissance-style building originally housed Copenhagen’s stock exchange but has since 1857 been home to the Chamber of Commerce.

The building had been under renovation and clad in scaffolding when the fire broke out.

Police finished their investigation in May, but the cause of the fire is still unknown.

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