The Department of Scientific Research investigates the material aspects of works of art in the Museum's collections. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying, preserving, and conserving the works in the Museum's collections, and also pursue innovative research in analytical techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies.
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
During the early stages of preparing for the exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty, a team of conservators and scientists began a technical investigation of the large power figures known as Mangaaka, which were created in the Chiloango River Region on the Loango Coast during the second half of the nineteenth century. The initial focus of the investigation was the materials and methods of construction of our own Mangaaka, but shortly thereafter—through collaboration with a number of American and European museums and individuals whose collections house these figures—the study expanded to include a majority of the other fourteen Mangaaka power figures now on view in the exhibition.
Posted: Friday, October 9, 2015
The exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty (on view through January 3, 2016) culminates with an astonishing display of fifteen N'kisi Nkondi Mangaaka power figures—the result of an eight-year research project that began with the Metropolitan's acquisition of its own example in 2008. On permanent display at the entrance to the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, this work is presented for the first time with fourteen of the greatest examples drawn from international collections in Berlin, Leipzig, Liverpool, Mainz, Manchester, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam, Stuttgart, Tervuren (Belgium), and Zug (Switzerland), as well as American institutions in Dallas and Detroit.
Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015
As conservators and conservation scientists, we are responsible for the technical examination of works of art here at the Met. When Matt Saba, an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Islamic Art, asked us to work with him to investigate the original function and decoration of a tenth-century relief panel (fig.1), we were thrilled to undertake the necessary detective work. As a result of our investigation, we learned that the panel was once part of an architectural element, but also that the partially surviving polychrome decoration was applied after the panel was removed from its original context and repurposed.
Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Two years ago, during my time as a visiting scholar in the Met's Department of Scientific Research, I took advantage of the opportunity to spend time in the Museum's galleries. I had been particularly fascinated by the small but extremely interesting gallery dedicated to the archaeological excavation of Nishapur, Iran (gallery 452), the objects of which were of high aesthetic quality and displayed incredibly skillful craftsmanship.
Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015
What began as a casual conversation between Marco Leona, David H. Koch Scientist in Charge of the Met's Department of Scientific Research, and Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator of the Guggenheim Foundation, has grown over the past ten months into an unprecedented collaboration aiming to advance the role of science within curatorial and conservation-based scholarship at both institutions. The partnership—described in detail on the Guggenheim's blog—has established a framework for scientific research within the Guggenheim conservation studio by creating a position for the first scientist on staff and granting access to the Met's fully equipped chemical laboratories and advanced analytical instrumentation. Conservators and scientists from the two museums are currently sharing resources, identifying projects of mutual interest, and jointly studying objects in their respective collections.
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015
Archaeological objects and works of art in museum collections are not only treasured for their aesthetic qualities, but are also repositories of invaluable information, often concealed at a first sight, about the civilizations that created them. Among the many beautiful pieces in the collection of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art, it is interesting to note one modest stone fragment (fig.1), the scientific investigation of which has provided a clue that could solve a long-time debate among Egyptologists and historians of technologies: the use of high-performance abrasives.
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015
Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
In 2012, this imposing Bhairava's mask came to the Museum as a part of an important donation from The Zimmerman Family Collection, and it is now on display in the newly renovated gallery 252. The sixteenth-century gilt and polychrome copper mask of Bhairava from Nepal had a significant loss to its appearance—its right ear was missing, and its attribute, a large copper pendant earring for the left ear, had been used as a substitute.
Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015
A gift to the Museum in 1949, this image of Vajrabhairava was not placed on display for many years (fig. 1). In conjunction with the work's display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, however, the Departments of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research examined this figure in order to shed light on the materials and the production technique of this unusual representation.
Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Earlier this month, the Thomas J. Watson Library sponsored two events devoted to the scholarship of Japanese books of the Edo period. These events were developed to create an environment of collegial collaboration surrounding the subject of Japanese books and to celebrate the Museum's acquisition of the Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, a group of over 250 ehon (illustrated books) from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.