Conservation chemistry

Conservation chemistry as a branch of chemistry is slowly finding its place among other chemical specialties.

In the field of conservation chemistry, our research focuses on issues related to the degradation of materials and methods of their prevention, as well as the development of modern techniques of physicochemical analysis of materials used in museum facilities (painting, prints). The team specializes in degradation studies of natural polymers (cellulose, proteins) and dyes. In particular, research methods adapted to the study of reaction mechanisms are developed, as well as non-invasive or microinvasive techniques for analyzing works of art based on infrared spectroscopy and photoacoustic signal detection, visible spectrophotometry, X-ray fluorescence, gel and gas chromatography.

Degradation of natural polymers

For many years, we specialize in studying the degradation process of natural polymers

Non-destructive methods of analysis

We develop a methodology for non-destructive measurements for applications in conservation chemistry

Popularization of chemical analysis among conservators

We actively promote research topics and methods of analyzing works of art

Cooperation with cultural entities

We are open to cooperation and implementing new research projects with cultural entities

The team cooperates with a number of cultural institutions in Poland and around the world, including:

  • The Jagiellonian Library,
  • National Museum in Krakow (Laboratory for Non Destructive Analysis and Research of Historic Objects),
  • Wawel Royal Castle,
  • Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow,
  • Central Archives Conservation Laboratory.

We conducted research on various projects with the cooperation with the Institute of Catalysis of the Polish Academy of Sciences, units of the Jagiellonian University – the Faculty of Physics and the Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Research projects (selected) carried out by us as part of broadly understood conservation chemistry:

  1. Nanocellulose + metal nanoparticles. Synthesis and research on functionalized nanocellulose towards the immobilization of metal nanoparticles.
  2. Multicultural Rzeczpospolita in the time of Zygmunt August, Wawel Royal Castle – National Art Collections under the program Promoting cultural and artistic diversity within the European cultural heritage co-financed by the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism no. 15d / II / 2013 / PL09; 2015-16
  3. Development of a method for analyzing the distribution of molecular weight of fibroin using gel chromatography; National Science Center, 2015-16
  4. Evaluation of the effects of disinfestation of objects by low-temperature plasma, National Science Center, 2012-15

Scientific publications and books on research topics developed in the Team in the field of conservation chemistry were collected in the Publications section.

Actual research projects

The beginnings of conservation chemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University

Research in the field of conservation chemistry in our team was initiated by its earlier head, prof. Andrzej Barański, as part of the “Acid Paper" Multiannual Government Program initiated and implemented by the team. This program resulted in, among others establishment of the first mass conservation center in Poland at the Jagiellonian Library – Paper Clinic. The program also enabled the first equipment to be obtained for the Paper Durability and Degradation Research Laboratory created at the Faculty of Chemistry at the Jagiellonian University.

History of conservation chemistry

Conservation chemistry has evolved from the issues of Preservation Science – the science of preserving and securing information media. Preservation Science is part of material engineering – a discipline that borders on exact, technical, humanistic and even biological sciences. H.J.Porck and R.Teygeler described the main problems they encountered as:

  • causes and course of degradation of information media,
  • active prevention of degradation carried out by technological and conservation operations,
  • passive prevention of degradation, i.e. selection of optimal storage conditions for carriers.

In Poland, the term conservation chemistry is becoming more common, which applies to a wider area of issues, in particular, it also includes the identification of materials used to manufacture the tested object (which is particularly important when making decisions regarding conservation and when authenticating the object).

Current research topics in this field

Currently implemented projects implemented in the Team concern research on modification and development of methods for the production of nanofibers and functionalization of their surface.

Contact: dr Dominika Pawcenis

Offer of cooperation

Are you looking for specialists to carry out research related to conservation chemistry or do you need consultations in conducting research using non-destructive methods? Write to us!

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