The Getty Conservation Institute has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support the purchase of a mapping micro-X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

ARTAX micro-XRF spectrometer
 

The mapping micro-XRF spectrometer is the latest development in XRF technology. Capable of probing on a microscopic scale, this instrument is also able to generate element distribution maps. This capability will facilitate the study of finely detailed objects. For example, the pigments used to paint individual features in the tiny faces frequently found in manuscript illuminations may now be better characterized.

The capabilities provided by this instrument will significantly enhance the ability of scientists in the GCI's Collection Research Laboratory to contribute to an understanding of artists materials and methods and to assist conservators in developing long-term preservation strategies. Furthermore, because the instrument is portable, it can be taken to local cultural heritage institutions and universities for research and for the training of a diverse range of professionals and students.

Results generated from the use of this instrument will be incorporated into museum gallery displays, exhibition publications, and public lectures, demonstrating how science can increase understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of art.