The chemistry of art preservation is a very complex project. Nevermind the extent of artifacts that conservation applies to; ancient pottery, furniture centuries old, even hieroglyphics need to be preserved! I focused my project solely on oil or acrylic paintings. There are many procedures a preservation scientist can choose from, such as organic solvents and responsive gels for cleaning pieces and several techniques for actually restoring the paint on pieces. Museums and history have always fascinated me, so I combined the two to learn about how conservation saves old pieces. How is life affected by the saving older pieces for our prodigy to enjoy? It is for the simple reason that I can walk into the Louvre and see Leonardo Da Vinci’s work with my own eyes. And thanks to the science behind conservation of art, your children can too.
Composition of ...
Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components
Chemistry is a double-edged sword and it cuts both ways in the art world. Due to many chemical reactions with older oil paints and the even the canvases they were painted on, the art pieces deteriorate. Fading colors cause the art to look completely different from the original. But chemistry has also increased the development of better tools for preserving and conserving art than ever before. A plethora of synthetic resins have been designed to enhance color, create the gloss similar to the original natural resin. Just like natural resins, synthetic resins have a low viscosity and molecular weight. But synthetic resins have the upper hand; they are soluble with less harsher solvents which means they damage the painting less when they are removed.
Chemistry had also allow us to go back through time. Multispectral and x-ray analysis have been designed to show minute details in the art, even the artist’s fingerprints! Thanks to the light spectrum, we can see the technique and technology of the time, as well as what chemicals have been used in previous conservation attempts. Chemistry plays the most important role in art preservation (both as the antagonist and the hero), save for the art piece itself.
Natural resin is a collected plant secretion of hydrocarbon. It is placed over the painting to protect it as well as add a gloss to the painting and darken the pigmentation. Synthetic resin act similarly to the natural resin are more soluble. They are designed in a lab and used in conservation labs in museums and with private investors. Multispectral Analysis is a portable device that allows researchers to analyze works of art without damaging the pieces by moving them into a lab. Using a range between infrared radiation to ultraviolet fluorescence light, multispectral analysis allows conservationists to see writing that was too damaged to be seen with the human eye, take stock of pigments with out a sample from the physical painting, and helps identify forgeries by studying techniques and technology of the time.
About the Author
Kallie Bradley is a young chemistry student at Senior High. Although she may have struggled with wrapping her mind around chemistry in the past (and probably the future), she thoroughly enjoyed this project. Kallie is in fact interested with becoming a museum curator in the future. Right now, though, she enjoys running cross-country, reading, and food.