This project aims to evaluate changes in the morphology and properties of fragile underbound paint layers upon exposure to environmental factors, in particular to relative humidity fluctuations.
Two multiplying factors justifiy the need for this research:
a. Current climatic models for northern Europe predict an increase in relative humidity levels.
b. The current need for energy saving strategies with the relaxation of museum environment guidelines aims to allow an extended relative humidity corridor between 40-60% in exhibition and storage spaces. As a result it is fundamental to understand how fragile underbound paint layers behave under thiese new conditions. Cultural assets exhibiting porous fragile paint layers include wall paintings, ethnological cultural assets, works on paper, polychrome sculpture as well as paintings on multiple substrates, making the results of this research project of relevance for a large number of collections.
The samples will be investigated using ptychographic X-ray computed tomography (PXCT) at the synchrotron facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute, to evaluate changes in binder network as a result of exposure to relative humidity fluctuations.
The knowledge that can be gained through this project will provide the basis for the development of safe strategies for the long-term preservation of valuable cultural heritage.