The upgrade of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ x-ray diffraction (XRD) facilities supported by this grant, together with matching funding provided by the Detroit Institute of Arts, has continued to develop the Midwest’s only fully equipped and staffed conservation science laboratory.  The improvements made to the x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence and microscope systems in our laboratory have enabled us to carry out analyses more efficiently, accurately and reliably, and our productivity has increased correspondingly (by at least 25%).  Working in collaboration with conservators and curators, studies carried out by the scientific staff helped resolve questions of condition, technique and authenticity; supported the acquisition of works of art; determined the suitability of storage and display materials and guided the selection of conservation treatments.

The equipment provided for under this grant included a Nikon zoom stereomicroscope, which has greatly facilitated the handling and preparation of small samples for analysis.  A film scanner and JadeTM computer-assisted data processing and pattern matching software has greatly improved the ease with which x-ray diffraction patterns acquired using our Gandolfi film camera system can be analyzed.  Additionally, the installation of a computer interface for the Philips/Norelco vertical goniometer has allowed diffraction patterns obtained on this system to also be analyzed using the JadeTM software.  Using these new capabilities, we have begun building a searchable, digitized database of x-ray powder diffraction patterns of pigments, minerals and corrosion products.

As a result of these upgrades and improvements, we are better able to conduct materials analysis and scientific research on the DIA’s collections and well as those of the museums, historical societies, universities, churches, and private individuals we serve.  During the grant period, collaborative research was conducted with colleagues at a number of other cultural institutions, including the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Van Gogh Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Winterthur Museum and the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.  These collaborative efforts contributed to the fields of conservation and historic preservation by generating information that enhanced our understanding of the materials and methods in works of art.  This information was disseminated through the production of two peer-reviewed publications and a number of presentations at professional meetings and conferences.  Furthermore, the scientific staff continually works to educate the general public about the efforts of conservation and conservation science through public presentations and tours of the DIA’s conservation laboratories.

This upgrade was made possible through Grant MT-2210-9-NC-13 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

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