Sculpture and decorative arts are constructed from a wide variety of materials, including wood, metal, ceramics, textiles, glass, and stone. Until recently the J. Paul Getty Museum collection consisted of pre-nineteenth-century European sculpture and decorative arts. However, a 2005 bequest of twentieth-century contemporary outdoor sculpture from the Ray Stark Revocable Trust has expanded the range of materials—and associated conservation problems—that need to be addressed.

CRL scientists work with the Museum's conservators and curators to answer questions such as the nature of metal corrosion products, the authenticity of gemstones, the types of materials used in previous restoration campaigns, or the kind of foundry technology used. Although some analyses can be performed in-situ using portable instrumentation (most notably X-ray fluorescence), because of the large size and complex nature of many sculpture and decorative arts, small samples are occasionally removed for more in-depth analysis that uses techniques such as X-ray diffraction, Raman and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopies, or scanning electron microscopy.

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Last updated: June 2009