From Mars to the museum: The application of full-field X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to the study of a Caillebotte painting

X-rays help researchers understand the elemental profile of an artwork. A new X-ray fluorescence imaging system, inspired by a similar system being developed for planetary exploration missions, brings high-resolution elemental mapping directly into the galleries in an accessible way. Continue reading From Mars to the museum: The application of full-field X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to the study of a Caillebotte painting

Don’t lick your hands: Arsenic pigments used in 16-17th c. bookbinding

When working with historic texts, people are usually concerned about how they may harm the book, not how the book may harm them. Explore this post to learn about some 16-17th century books with potentially toxic components that were found in libraries at the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Southern Denmark. Continue reading Don’t lick your hands: Arsenic pigments used in 16-17th c. bookbinding

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

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