Deadly beautiful pigments: how arsenic sulfide pigment degradation affects the degradation of paintings

Historically, artists have used arsenic pigments, among other poisonous materials, since antiquity. Beautiful but deadly arsenic pigments were not only dangerous for the artists but also are dangerous for the objects: they can readily degrade and react with other components of the complex paint system, producing irreversible damage. Continue reading Deadly beautiful pigments: how arsenic sulfide pigment degradation affects the degradation of paintings

Distinguishing the composition of medieval stained glass windows using x-rays

Non-invasive techniques are always at the forefront of a conservation scientist’s mind when working with historic artifacts. But how do we apply these techniques to stained glass windows? Check out this article about using MA-XRF as a first step for understanding the composition of medieval stained glass windows and how they were colored. Continue reading Distinguishing the composition of medieval stained glass windows using x-rays

A fluorescent party: Fluorescence spectroscopy for non-invasive characterization of artwork

Everyone has seen a fluorescent painting, but did you know fluorescence (or more-generally photoluminescence) is an effect that may be used to study cultural heritage? Fluorescence phenomena give information about a broad spectrum of materials in a non-invasive manner. Continue reading A fluorescent party: Fluorescence spectroscopy for non-invasive characterization of artwork

Decomposing art: How museum professionals treat living matter

Today, some of the most prominent contemporary artists are ditching their paintbrushes and pencils for biological matter like plants, animals, bacteria, and, even, human blood and skin. Wondering how these artworks will last? This post (and an upcoming symposium) will discuss the challenges, ethics, and methods of conserving these unconventional works. Image credit: moca.org Continue reading Decomposing art: How museum professionals treat living matter

Nano-what? Silver nanoparticle gel for identifying pigments

The analysis of dyes and lakes is a challenging task for conservation scientists. Nanoparticles and nanocomposites have become a powerful tool to increase the power of spectroscopic techniques, exemplified with SERS. This method not only improves the detection limit but also allows non-invasive analyses. Continue reading Nano-what? Silver nanoparticle gel for identifying pigments

Looking inside Egyptian grave goods using neutrons

How can we discover and understand the contents of Egyptian grave goods without unsealing them? Neutron and gamma-ray techniques are some ways of probing their contents non-invasively and non-destructively. Elemental analysis can also provide information on the identification, manufacturing, and purpose of these grave goods. Continue reading Looking inside Egyptian grave goods using neutrons