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
Many paintings containing zinc white, such as Alchemy by Jackson Pollock, are slowly destroying themselves from the inside out! Continue reading Are oil paintings slowly eating themselves alive?
There is a hidden source of thousands of medieval documents in early-modern libraries waiting to be read again. These old manuscripts had been cut up and used to make bookbindings, thus hiding them from the human eye. How can macro-XRF be used to reveal these medieval texts? Continue reading Reading hidden book fragments with macro-XRF
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
Modern non-invasive analytical techniques reveal what artists thought no one would ever see again. Here we present the story of a portrait that hides another artwork, buried in the layers of paint.
Continue reading Nothing to hide if you are famous
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
Although they look similar by eye, cadmium yellow pigments, first produced in the mid-19th century, can have different crystalline structures. These different structures, along with a range of impurities that can be present in the pigment, can have a significant impact on long-term stability. Recent work explores how spectroscopy can unravel the compositional profile of historical cadmium yellow pigments, paving the way to help better understanding the degradation of modern pigments. Continue reading Shining new light on historical cadmium yellow pigments with time-resolved photoluminescence microscopy
Laser light can be used to blast grime off stone surfaces without affecting the stone substrate underneath. Although laser cleaning can be used in conjunction with other methods to remove different types of contaminants, here we highlight an article that uses only laser cleaning to remove biofilm from a marble statue. Continue reading Green slime invasion deterred by laser guns! How finely-tuned light can be used to clean marble
Imaging, used in art analysis for a decade now, has helped to reveal long-lost paintings, lost colors or evidence of artists changing their minds. But now, it has brought the symbols of darkness to light… Continue reading Hidden Skeleton: Using scientific imaging tools to reveal the previous lives of art objects
Over time, stone heritage can become fragile and weak. So how can we consolidate the stone to strengthen it? Bacteria might can help! Continue reading How bacteria can be used to conserve and protect our stone heritage