jump to navigation

Art, Media, And Chemistry March 27, 2007

Posted by Kimberly in General.

Filed by Rachel Petkewich

Only a handful places in this country have art conservation laboratories, and a group of reporters attending the ACS meeting got a behind-the-scenes tour of the labs at the Art Institute of Chicago on Monday afternoon.

Two patina-coated lions welcome visitors to the Institute’s enormous and stately building, which currently has about 4,600 objects on display. It is the third largest art collection in the country and home to the famous painting of a farmer and his wife by Grant Wood called “American Gothic.” It’s also undergoing a major expansion referred to as the Modern Wing.

The labs, which are not open to the public, were established in 2003 with $2.75 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In fact, a security guard told me that he had worked at the Institute for years, and yesterday afternoon was the first time he had been in the labs. He said employees know that going into the labs without proper authorization generally means getting fired. I must say, I had never attended a lab tour with so many security guards following us around.

These labs are not your typical university organic labs, complete with glassware and packed lab benches. I did see one beaker and a small hood for analyzing paint samples, however. We saw mostly fine works of art and nondestructive analytical equipment. After all, what good is using analytical equipment to find out about an object if you ruin the object in the process?

I peered at artifacts through microscopes and saw pigment particles in a new light. The scientists also discussed how they incorporated infrared and Raman microspectrophotometers and instrumentation for X-ray fluorescence microspectrometry into ongoing projects and collaborations with nearby Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University.

I was particularly impressed with the explanation of some of the work being done with paintings. Under proper conditions, these scientists and conservators could use modern techniques to see the artist’s original sketches on the wood. Many of these sketches translated to the final painting, but a few yielded surprises about the final decisions that the artist made about where to, for example, place a foot in a painting of Madonna and child.

For studying 3-D objects, there is X-radiography and infrared imaging that can reveal air bubbles in metal sculptures and other mysteries below the surface. The stationary equipment is fine for small objects that can be moved to the instrument, but what about the big installations? The scientists use a wireless device that looks like a bar-code scanner and do their work “in the field.” That is, right in the middle of a museum installation.



1. Indira - January 1, 2015

You post very interesting content here. Your website deserves much bigger audience.

It can go viral if you give it initial boost, i
know useful tool that can help you, simply type in google:
svetsern traffic tips

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: