Materials Characterization

The GCI undertakes in-depth scientific studies of broad classes of materials used in cultural heritage to better understand their composition and physical properties and the ways these change over time. Such studies are needed to enable the development of appropriate analytical protocols or the modification of existing procedures, so that a full identification can be made of those materials when analyzed from actual objects or works of art.

In many cases, this research then develops into examining the chemical and physical properties of these art or conservation materials, so that a greater understanding of how they behave and perform can be made. As part of this endeavor, reference materials are also collected, characterized with a range of analytical techniques, and added to the GCI Reference Collection.

Our work in this area tends to focus on classes of materials lacking significant study by the field. Recent areas of research have included plastics, oil paints, waxes, and lacquers. Methodologies developed by the GCI, including analytical methodologies for traditional and modern paints, plastics, and traditional (chemical) photographic processes, are being used around the world for technical studies.

Current projects include:
Characterization of Asian and European Lacquers
Modern Paints
Preservation of Plastics (including animation cels)
Photographic Processes Research

Page updated: September 2015