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Cleaning and Conservation

Edited by Bronwyn Ormsby (Tate, UK), Angelica Bartoletti (NOVA School of Science and Technology, Portugal), Klaas van den Berg (Cultural Heritage Agency, Netherlands), Chris Stavroudis (independent conservator, USA)

© © J. Paul Getty TrustThe complex challenges inherent to cleaning works of art and other cultural heritage — defined broadly as the removal of unwanted materials — have in recent years, benefited from enhanced research and practice efforts which have resulted in the development and evaluation of a range of new or modified options. These have facilitated new ways of approaching, executing, assessing and evaluating cleaning treatments across a wide range of heritage materials. Contributions to this special collection in Heritage Science include evaluated treatments on impactful case study works of art and other materials, the development and evaluated application of novel and modified cleaning materials, tools and approaches, and scientific explorations into cleaning materials and effects on a range of cultural materials. The papers collectively provide a snapshot of ongoing work, including how recent developments in cleaning tools and understanding from projects such as Nanorestart, the Cleaning of Modern Oil Paints and many others are influencing practice and refining research questions to help achieve treatment aims while also lowering risks to users and cultural heritage, as well as enhancing sustainability. 

Image: Analyzing the surfaces of Winsor and Newton oil paint swatches using Fourier Transform InfraredAttenuated Total Reflectance (FTIRATR) spectroscopy at Tate. © J. Paul Getty Trust. 

  1. The removal of varnish from the surface is a key step in painting conservation. Varnish removal is traditionally monitored by examining the painting surface under ultraviolet illumination. We show here that by...

    Authors: Christine B. Wilda, Aviva Burnstock, Klaus Suhling, Francesco Mattioli Della Rocca, Robert K. Henderson and Jakub Nedbal
    Citation: Heritage Science 2023 11:127
  2. This paper explores the cleaning efficacy of polyethylene-supported 15-min photo-crosslinked poly (acrylamide-co-benzophenone) surface-attached gels (SAGs) on gypsum plaster surface models inspired by nineteen...

    Authors: Charis Theodorakopoulos, Valentina Risdonne, Silvia Freese, Samar Diraoui and Ulrich Jonas
    Citation: Heritage Science 2023 11:95
  3. A thin, grey surface layer was noticed after removing the varnish of an eighteenth century Dutch oil painting, by an unknown artist titled Vision of Saint Lutgard of Tongeren. This layer masked the paint layer al...

    Authors: Nikita Shah, Emilie Froment and Kate Seymour
    Citation: Heritage Science 2023 11:80
  4. Gels are a popular cleaning method for paper conservators and a lot of research has been done concerning gel cleaning of paper objects over the last 15 years. Despite the close interconnection between the cons...

    Authors: Natalia Ortega Saez, Robbe Arno, Andrea Marchetti, Sabine Cauberghs, Koen Janssens, Geert Van der Snickt and Ehab Al-Emam
    Citation: Heritage Science 2023 11:78
  5. Vincent van Gogh’s painting Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen from the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was executed in 1884 and partially repainted by the artist in 1885. The paint...

    Authors: Magdalena Iwanicka, Patrizia Moretti, Kathrin Pilz, Brenda Doherty, Laura Cartechini, Muriel Geldof, Suzan de Groot, Costanza Miliani and Piotr Targowski
    Citation: Heritage Science 2022 10:167
  6. Analytical characterization efforts carried out in support of the conservation treatment of Mark Rothko's painting 'Black on Maroon' 1958 (Tate T01170), involving the removal of graffiti (tag) ink, are summari...

    Authors: Scott T. Wills, Bronwyn A. Ormsby, Melinda H. Keefe and Robert L. Sammler
    Citation: Heritage Science 2022 10:143
  7. Gels were used to perform localized dechlorination treatments on ferrous or copper alloy archaeological objects. Agar gel (3%w) was used as a medium for the electrolyte, a 1%w KNO3 solution. Localized electrolysi...

    Authors: Clémence Fontaine, Stéphane Lemoine, Charlène Pelé-Meziani and Elodie Guilminot
    Citation: Heritage Science 2022 10:117
  8. Cellulose nitrate (CN) has been used in the past as support for photographic negatives and cinematographic films. This material is particularly unstable and can undergoes severe degradation due to thermal, pho...

    Authors: Marco Valente Chavez Lozano, Giorgia Sciutto, Silvia Prati and Rocco Mazzeo
    Citation: Heritage Science 2022 10:114
  9. In the field of cultural heritage restoration, the removal of iron corrosion stains is a difficult problem to deal with, especially in stone materials. Many studies in recent years have been aimed at finding s...

    Authors: Luigi Campanella, Francesco Cardellicchio, Emanuele Dell’Aglio, Rita Reale and Anna Maria Salvi
    Citation: Heritage Science 2022 10:79
  10. The cleaning or removal of manganese stains on Cultural Heritage has not been much tested or successful so far. The aim of this article was to assess a new green cleaning gel for Mn-rich black-blue stains on d...

    Authors: Bruno Campos, Alexandra Marco, Guilhermina Cadeco, David M. Freire-Lista, Joaquin Silvestre-Albero, Manuel Algarra, Eduarda Vieira, Manuela Pintado and Patrícia Moreira
    Citation: Heritage Science 2021 9:160
  11. The cleaning of particles from smooth and rough paper surfaces using a high-speed CO2 snow jet was investigated. The measurements included characterization of the jet properties, determination of the cleaning eff...

    Authors: Ludmila Mašková, Jiří Smolík, Petra Vávrová, Jitka Neoralová, Magda Součková, Dana Novotná, Věra Jandová, Jakub Ondráček, Lucie Ondráčková, Tereza Křížová, Kateřina Kocová and Petr Stanovský
    Citation: Heritage Science 2021 9:145
  12. Low-risk removal of embedded surface soiling on delicate heritage objects can require novel alternatives to traditional cleaning systems. Edvard Munch’s monumental Aula paintings (1911–16) have a long history ...

    Authors: Lena Porsmo Stoveland, Tine Frøysaker, Maartje Stols-Witlox, Terje Grøntoft, Calin Constantin Steindal, Odile Madden and Bronwyn Ormsby
    Citation: Heritage Science 2021 9:144