XRF Boot Camp for Conservators is a series of focused workshops on the fundamentals of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and data interpretation, developed and carried out in partnership with the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. Its aim is to provide training and resources that will improve the use of handheld XRF instruments for the study of cultural heritage.


The ability to employ noninvasive and nondestructive analytical methods that can be used in situ is essential in the study of works of art and other cultural heritage materials, as the removal of samples for analysis is generally severely limited, or in many cases forbidden.

As such, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy has arguably become the most widely employed analytical technique in the scientific examination of works of art. The recent proliferation of relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use handheld spectrometers has resulted in this technique being adopted by an increasingly large number of institutions.

However, in many cases the responsibility for operating the instrument – and interpreting the data – falls to conservation professionals, who may or may not have sufficient scientific background or access to training to enable them to correctly apply the technique or accurately interpret the results.

Boot Camps

The first XRF Boot Camp for Conservators was held in 2013. The twenty participants, from countries around the world spent four intensive days of lectures, lab practicals and group projects using museum objects to build a strong foundation based on the scientific theory of XRF spectroscopy and practical, hands-on experience in its application to works of art and cultural heritage objects.

A second XRF boot camp was held November 2014 at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles.

The XRF Boot Camp is part of the Research into Practice Initiative.

Page updated: November 2014