One of the main concerns of conservators is to find a method for evaluating the damage incurred by works of art in major galleries and historic houses with differing indoor environmental conditions. For this purpose test tempera paintings were prepared and exposed at selected sites [e.g in the U.K at Sandham Memorial Chapel (in collaboration with The National Trust) and in the Clore Gallery (in collaboration with the Conservation Department, Tate Gallery]. The test paintings act as dosimeters and integrate the contributions from a range of factors which determine the overall environmental hazard to which paintings are exposed. Subsequent analysis involved an interdisciplinary approach using mass spectrometry (FOM Institute, NL), thermal analysis and infrared spectroscopy (Birkbeck College) and non-invasive spectroscopic analysis (CNR-IROE, It). These techniques gave a measure of the chemical changes and hence the resulting damage. In this paper the thermoanalytical and infrared data will be presented. Prior accelerated ageing of similar test paintings using controlled conditions was also performed to provide a comparison between artificial and natural ageing and a means for calibrating the test paintings. Further work is in progress to develop a simple and practical dosimeter for use by conservators.
Keywords: indoor environments, damage dosimeters, cultural heritage, thermal analysis, FTIR spectroscopy, natural ageing, artificial ageing.
M. Odlyha*, N. S. Cohen and R. Campana
School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, Birkbeck College, University of London, 20, Gordon St., London WC1H OAJ, U.K.
G. M. Foster
School of Engineering & Computer Science, University of Exeter, North Park Rd., Exeter, Devon, EX4 4QF, U.K.
(*) Author to whom correspondence may be addressed
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