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Scientific Examination of Art: Modern Techniques in Conservation and Analysis
nior Scientist in charge of the Analytical Research Section. Michael oversees and coordinates a wide variety of projects in his section: applied research in materials analysis, scientific support to GCI’s field conservation projects, study of museum collections, evaluation of the air quality in museums, assessment of safe levels of lighting in museum galleries, and characterization of building materials. One research area in which Analytical Research scientists have developed considerable expertise is the characterization and analysis of organic materials. In this project, several gas chromatography-mass spectrometry procedures were developed for qualitative and quantitative analysis of natural organic binding media in paints. He and other scientists in the Analytical Research Section have conducted numerous workshops that were developed to inform conservation professionals about these GC-MS procedures. Since 1997, Michael and his staff have been studying the materials and techniques of modern and contemporary artists. Much of this work has involved the analysis of modern synthetic binding media and synthetic organic pigments. Michael has participated in collaborative projects to study and preserve wall paintings in the tomb of Nefertari, located in Luxor, Egypt, and also in the Mogao Grottoes, which is near the city of Dunhuang in the Gansu Province of China. He was also a member of a GCI research team that studied the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Elizabeth Walmsley is a painting conservator at the National Gallery of Art (NGA), Washington, D.C. She has also worked on the NGA’s systematic catalogue project from which has stemmed her interests in the technical examination of Old Master paintings using digital imaging, infrared reflectography, and x-radiography, and in the history of conservation. She graduated with an AB from Dartmouth College and received an M.A. in Art History with a Certificate in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College.
Paul M. Whitmore was trained as a chemist, getting a B.S. from Caltech and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked in art conservation science for his entire professional career, starting at the Environmental Quality Laboratory at Caltech, working with Professor Glen Cass studying the effects of air pollution on works of art. From there, he went to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, where he worked as a scientist in what is now the Straus Center for Conservation. Since 1988 he has been at Carnegie Mellon University, directing the Research Center on the Materials of the Artist and Conservator. His current research interests are in material degradation chemistries, intrinsic and environmental risk factors for those processes, and chemical sensors for material aging processes and risk factors. He has published on paper deterioration, its treatment, and damage induced by humidity changes; acrylic paint media stability and the physical damage to acrylic coatings from shrinkage stresses during drying; fading of colorants from air pollutant exposure; fading of transparent paint glazes from light exposure and the relationship between photochemical