FALL 2017
GCI News
Project Updates
Asian Lacquer Workshop Held

In May 2017 eighteen conservators and scientists from Asia, Europe, and the United States attended Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquer, hosted in the laboratories of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

A presentation at the May 2017 workshop on recent advances in characterizing Asian lacquer

The five-day workshop explored newly developed analytical procedures for acquiring detailed compositional information about Asian lacquers, their additives, and their European substitutes. The techniques presented reflect research developed by the Characterization of Asian and European Lacquers project, carried out by the GCI and the Getty Museum. This research has led to important new discoveries about the range of materials used in creating lacquer objects and to technical advances in characterizing and understanding these materials.

During the workshop, conservators and scientists worked in pairs to study and discuss historic lacquer samples from their institutions, afterward presenting their findings. Additionally, speakers covered related topics including Asian lacquer treatment and research projects and analytical techniques complementary to the ones taught at the workshop. Also included was hands-on work to prepare and analyze samples through layer-by-layer sampling techniques, high- and low-tech analytical procedures, and specialized data evaluation tools capable of uncovering detailed information about lacquer composition.

The 2017 workshop was the fourth in the Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquer workshop series, which has reached over seventy conservators and scientists. It is part of the GCI’s Research into Practice Initiative, which facilitates the practical application of new research to conservation problems.