Workshop 2014

Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France
July 7–11, 2014

In July 2014, the GCI and the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF) welcomed eighteen conservators and scientists to the C2RMF laboratories at the Louvre.

Over five days, participants explored new analytical procedures for acquiring detailed compositional information about Asian lacquers, their additives and their European substitutes. Conservators and scientists worked together in research teams to study and discuss historic lacquer samples brought from their own collections and presented their findings on the last day of the workshop. During the week, local specialists provided their expertise on conservation and connoisseurship of lacquer as guest speakers.

The workshop included substantial hands-on work to prepare and analyze samples using both low- and high-tech methods and in depth training to interpret the results. Instruction during the week focused on the following procedures, 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 based on customized software tools and a marker compound database developed at the GCI which permits detection of a broad range of 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 the Organic Materials Research at the GCI, specializing in GC/MS and thermal analysis techniques.
Arlen Heginbotham: Associate Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum, specializing in the technical examination of furniture.
Nanke Schellmann: Conservator in private practice in Munich, specializing in conservation and analysis of furniture and decorative objects and the characterization and treatment of degraded decorative surfaces.
Michael Szelewski: Scientist at the Winterthur Museum, specializing in the interpretation of analytical data using AMDIS software.
Julie Chang: 2013-14 Graduate Intern at the Getty Conservation Institute, specializing in analytical and textual research into Asian lacquers

About C2RMF
The Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF) is the national research centre in France responsible for the documentation, conservation and restoration of the artifacts held in the collections of more than 1,200 museums across France.

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Page updated: October 2014