Workshop 2017

Ateliergebouw, Amsterdam
May 15–19, 2017

Application period has closed. For questions, please contact

This five-day workshop will explore newly developed analytical procedures for acquiring detailed compositional information about Asian lacquers, their additives, and their European substitutes. During the workshop, conservators and scientists will work together in research teams to study and discuss historic lacquer samples. It presents a unique opportunity for collaboration and discussion of topics such as the compositional variation in lacquered objects made in different countries and time periods, the relevance of analytical research to the conservation and interpretation, and the identification of research priorities and potential collaborations.

This workshop is a partnership of the Getty Conservation Institute, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) and the Rijks Museum.

The workshop aims to:

demonstrate new analytical protocols and the level of information that can be gathered using these methods

provide participants with the tools necessary to use these methods, such as a marker compound database and custom data evaluation tools

highlight the benefits that collaboration between scientists and conservators can provide

identify pressing analytical and conservation issues in the field and priorities for future research

Instruction in the following low-tech and high-tech procedures will be provided with the aim of identifying traditional and non-traditional materials in Asian lacquers:

Visible and fluorescent light microscopic examination of chemically-stained lacquer cross-sections which can provide visual, layer-specific information for a number of organic materials

Precision sample collection of discrete lacquer layers which permits layer-specific compositional information to be obtained

Pyrolysis - gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry with thermally-assisted hydrolysis and methylation (TMAH-Py-GC/MS); a versatile method with excellent limits of detection

A systematic protocol for data analysis and interpretation using AMDIS (Automated Mass spectral Deconvolution and Identification System) and Excel, with a shared marker compound database that permits detection of a broad range of marker compounds even when present at trace levels

The concepts taught in the workshop may also be applied to the study of materials other than lacquer.

Michael Schilling: Senior Scientist and head of Materials Characterization Research at the Getty Conservation Institute, specializing in GC/MS and thermal analysis techniques

Arlen Heginbotham: Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum, specializing in the technical examination of furniture

Nanke Schellmann: independent conservator and researcher at SchellmannConservation in Munich, specializing in the conservation and analysis of mixed media objects and the characterization and treatment of degraded decorative surfaces.

The Ateliergebouw (Atelier Building) is a center for restoration and preservation, scientific practice, research and education, where Dutch cultural heritage can be preserved and administered under the very best conditions. In the Atelier Building, the Rijks Museum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, and the University of Amsterdam pool their knowledge of restoration and preservation. With this combination of research, teaching and practical application under one roof, this evolving center of expertise is unique, not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide.

Page updated: February 2017