Conservation and Scientific Research Projects
The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses a world-renowned complex of conservation facilities serving the varied needs of its vast collections. There are five suites of conservation laboratories and studios for Objects Conservation, Paintings Conservation, Paper Conservation, Photograph Conservation, and Textile Conservation, the first four of which were funded by and named for the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. In addition, the Museum maintains specialized studios for arms and armor, East Asian painting, costume and fashion, indigenous textiles, and book conservation.
The Department of Scientific Research, a core group of scientists who collaborate with curators and conservators throughout the Museum, is responsible for investigating the material aspects of works of art in The Met’s collection. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying and conserving works, and also pursue innovative research in analytic techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies.
In honor of the Museum's 150th anniversary, a series of case studies has been chosen to introduce visitors to the fascinating ways that technical research and conservation treatments have contributed to our understanding of iconic objects in our collection.
Scientific Discoveries in Johannes Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid Put Perennial Misunderstandings To Rest
Scientists, a conservator, and an art historian at The Met, The Frick Collection, and the Doerner Institut team up to investigate changes to the composition and the discoloration of some paint passages.
Plant Ash in Ground Preparations: Morphological Identification Uncovers Novel Artistic Patterns in Baroque Paintings from Spain, North and South America
The study of material derived from ash used in the ground preparations of paintings by both Spanish and Latin American artists in the Baroque period sheds new light on the spread of artistic practices beyond Spain.
Watch presentations from speakers at The Met's symposium covering recent developments in materials selection methods used in the display, storage or transportation of art and cultural heritage objects.
Illumination of Material Culture: A Symposium on Computational Photography and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)
In March 2017 The Met partnered with Cultural Heritage Imaging to host a two-day symposium focused on Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and related imaging techniques.
Researchers at The Met used 3-D X-ray technology to explore the inside of a Gupta-style bronze statue of the Buddha. Here's what they found.
Casting for the King: Archaeometallurgical Study of the Royal Palace Bronze Workshop of Angkor Thom, Cambodia
An archaeological excavation has discovered the location of the first historical bronze workshop in all Southeast Asia.
In preparation for the 2011 exhibition Cézanne's Card Players, organized in collaboration with the Courtauld Gallery, we investigated the creation of this series of masterpieces through technical examination.
The Metropolitan's collection of Chinese religious sculpture is the largest outside of Asia. The availability of new scholarly information, analytical techniques, and recent archaeology in China prompted the Museum to take an in-depth study of the collection.
On arrival at the Museum for examination in October 2008, this painting's paper support was extremely brittle and delaminating from the wooden panel: a direct consequence of the work having been kept in an uncontrolled environment for many years.
The Preventive Conservation Science Laboratory (PCSL) is addressing widespread collections-care issues by developing a new test for the assessment of construction, storage, and display materials for use with organic objects.
The Metropolitan's Adoration of the Magi (71.100) was painted in the southern Netherlands, probably in Antwerp, at the end of the fifteenth century, but little else is known regarding the circumstances of its creation. A recent conservation treatment provided the opportunity to examine the painting and to investigate the stages of its production.
Objects conservators recently applied two approaches for restoring losses to a stained-glass window.
Antibody-based techniques are applied in the field of conservation science to identify and localize the various kinds of proteins used in objects of cultural heritage, revealing insights into materials and techniques used by artists and craftspeople.
A petrographic and geochemical study of Khmer sculptural production of the pre-Angkor and Angkor periods.
The dye used in a Latin American Colonial textile from the sixteenth to seventeenth century is examined in order to determine the textile's origin.
Lead and other heavy metal soaps have been detected and reported to be the cause of deterioration in hundreds of oil paintings dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Understanding the nature of the chemical processes gives art conservators information on ways to slow, stop, and prevent the deterioration of unique works of art.
A major goal of this project is to determine the causes and mechanisms of a degradation process in traditional oil paintings known as soap formation.
Objects conservators embarked on a challenging project: moving a 25-foot marble structure from The Cloisters to the Main Building.
The enamel compositions from a group of well-dated enameled gold jewelry were chemically analyzed to help distinguish between authentic Renaissance period pieces and later pieces done in Renaissance style.
Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise (1947) came to the studio to be examined and treated in preparation for an exhibition; a non-original varnish that had discolored over time and imparted a yellow cast as well as an overly saturated and glossy appearance was removed.