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A scientific Training for High Education iNitiatives in Art conservation

Final Activity Report Summary - ATHENA (A scientific training for high education initiatives in art conservation)

The objective of the ATHENA project was the training of early stage researchers on scientific methodologies for the characterisation and conservation of the cultural heritage patrimony with the aim of allowing them to pursue a PhD level graduation in the field of Conservation of the cultural heritage (Conservator scientist). The training activity in science for cultural heritage envisaged in the ATHENA project has involved three European research laboratories with complementary and reliable expertise as to the use of scientific techniques applied to conservation problems: LENS of Florence (Italy), FORTH-IESL of Heraklion (Greece), UA-MiTAC of Antwerp (Belgium). The training activity was carried out in the host laboratories and in collaborating public/private institutions active in the conservation of the cultural heritage (i. e., museums, galleries, art conservation and restoration laboratories, companies providing instrumentation and methodologies for art conservation). Each institution of the ATHENA project has provided: 1) laboratory training on advanced scientific analytical methods and 2) courses at a graduate (PhD) school level.

LENS provided the laboratory training and lectures on the use of laser, advanced spectroscopic instrumentation: FT-IR, Raman and micro-Raman, pulsed Raman, UV-VIS spectrometers and fluorescence meters, Raman-IR imaging techniques, spectroscopic data interpretation and treatment, spectral database construction for the characterisation of artwork materials as pigments, ceramic mineralogical phases, organic dyes, artistic metal corrosion products, binders, painting substrates. Complementary methods for diagnostics were available: PIXE and PIGE, 14C dating methods, thermo-luminescence, in collaboration with the: Department of Physics and INFN-LABEC; artificial ageing methods, XRD measurements, laser cleaning, SEM-EDS measurements at the IVCBC-CNR, CE.M.E.-CNR OPD and the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of the University of Pisa.

FORTH-IESL has provided laboratory training and lectures on: a) Laser Spectroscopic and Imaging Techniques to be used for the on-line monitoring and control of any conservation intervention, including laser cleaning; b) advanced interferometric techniques for determining structural defects in the built of the art objects; c) laser spectroscopic techniques (e.g. Laser Induced Fluorescence-LIF, Mass Spectroscopy-MS, Multi-spectral Imaging, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy-LIBS) for authentication applications.

UA-MiTAC has provided laboratory training and lectures in the use of non-destructive micro-analysis and imaging methods either with laboratory or in-situ equipment. Training materials include: glass, stained windows, pigments, ceramics and metal alloys (Au, Ag, bronzes) using the methods of SEM/EPMA, XRF and micro-XRF, SIMS and LA-ICP-MS.

The fellows have pursued their training through: preparation of periodic and final reports, participation to local and international meeting and workshops, training on broader complementary skills such as communication, language skills, art history and archaeology, ad-hoc knowledge transfer schemes, dissemination, field-works (interaction with real art works), short training placements in other institutions operating in the field of conservations (museums, etc), secondment periods in other host laboratories of the project. The ATHENA fellows were given the chance of producing numerous publications on important journals which have enriched their curriculum and made more qualified and easier their employment search. Important deliverable has been the dissemination of a good scientific practice in the field of conservation of cultural heritage laying the ground for the creation of a stable European PhD school for structured scientific education in the field of conservation.