Science for Art’s sake

Scientists of the University of Seville and the Spanish National Research Council are applying non-destructive techniques to the analysis and preservation of objects at Seville’s Fine Arts Museum.


Scientists at the University of Seville and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) are collaborating to apply non-destructive techniques to the analysis and preservation of objects of Seville’s Fine Arts Museum.



The research, classified as ‘a project of excellence’ by the Andalusian Ministry of Innovation, Science and Enterprise, has a budget of €156,000 and the participation of the Spanish National Accelerator Centre (CNA).



The main objective is to contribute to the preservation and prevention work of Spain’s second most important museum collection. Researchers will use non-destructive analysis techniques which do not damage works as sample-taking is not necessary. Thanks to this analysis, the degradation processes that affect each work will be known, as well as the way to prevent them. The Museum authorities will decide what objects need to be analysed.



The work will be carried out on site with portable equipment, and only the works that require special techniques will be taken to the CNA. This SCIC centre has pioneering devices and equipment which makes of it a centre of reference for the use of such techniques. It collaborates with several museums and researchers and specialises in Archaeometalurgy, particularly the manufacturing processes of old gold jewels.



The objects will initially be analysed by means of infrared, ultraviolet rays, and visible light image techniques in order to determine their most damaged or fragile areas. Non-destructive techniques will be then applied to them to obtain detailed information on the organic and inorganic components used in the works, such as pigments, agglutinants and colourants, among others.



Some of the techniques to be used in this project include Raman spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) as well as nuclear techniques, such as PIXE (Proton Induced X-Ray Emission) and analysis by means of synchrotron radiation. The analysis of the results will help curators understand the works’ degradation processes better and how to treat them.



In addition, a database will be created with all the gathered data on the techniques of different authors, which will be spread across European nets for the exchange of artistic information.