Art conservation chemistry
Baer, Norbert S. Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:January 2019
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- Examination and analysis
- Museum environment
- Conservation treatment
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The application of chemistry to the technical examination, authentication, and preservation of cultural property. Chemists working in museums engage in a broad range of investigations, most frequently studying the chemical composition and structure of artifacts, their corrosion products, and the materials used in their repair, restoration (see illustration), and conservation. The effects of the museum environment, including air pollutants, fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity, biological activity, and ultraviolet and visible illumination, represent a second major area of research. A third area of interest is the evaluation of the effectiveness, safety, and long-term stability of materials and techniques for the conservation of works of art. Though analytical techniques appear to dominate, many other areas of chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering, including polymer chemistry, kinetic studies, imaging methodologies, biodegradation studies, dating methods, computer modeling, metallography, and corrosion engineering, play active roles in conservation science.
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